Relocating staff: The questions you need to ask

by Cameron Edmond25 Feb 2014
Relocation on both an interstate and international level has been a staple in the corporate world for years. Whether temporary or indefinite, relocating an employee can be an arduous task – complicated by the increase in double income households in today’s economic climate.

As such, HR needs to ask a number of questions of their potentially relocating employees beforehand to ensure they do not waste resources on a move destined to fail. Kellie Warta, head of HR at Hilti, has had a great deal of experience with relocating staff. She gave HC a few questions HR pros need to ask:

Are they comfortable with the area?
Relocation involves resetting many aspects of one’s life. While it may be a step forward career-wise, it is often a step back socially. Warta indicated that HR should allow their staff to visit the area first to make sure they would be comfortable living there, establishing new friendships, etc. HR should encourage the employee to do research on the area to make sure their wants and needs will be met there.

Does policy need to be changed?
HR needs to remember that not all locations will mesh with the established policies in terms of allowances, accommodation, etc. Doing extensive research and using tools such as ECA International’s  Accommodation calculator is an important step when looking to relocate staff to a new area.

How will this impact their family?
Perhaps the most important aspect to consider is the impact a move will have on an employee’s family. HR needs to have the discussion with the employee about their partner and if they will also be able to find work. Sanjay Sathe of RiseSmart suggested that organisations engage outplacement services for the employee’s partner to help squash this trepidation.

However, the question of if the family will be okay is one that, really, an employee must ask themselves: will their partner be comfortable in the new location? Will the children be alright? If they aren’t moving with them, will the family survive the pressures of one parent living away from home? HR must ensure employees are asking these questions of themselves before saying yes to a relocation.

Do you agree with these three questions? Can you think of any others? Let us know in the comments.


  • by Nic 25/02/2014 1:32:59 PM

    Many companies fail to consider FBT implications on their business, or PAYG tax implications for employees on relocation allowances and payments for out of pocket expenses. If you are writing a policy on relocation, it is important to understand this area.

  • by Karen 25/02/2014 1:36:54 PM

    Many companies also underestimate the implication of and processing times for obtaining visas, and often these are left till far too late in the process (for international moves) which adds unnecessary stress.

  • by R Pollock 25/02/2014 2:11:54 PM

    What is suggested is spot on but additionally and equally important are basics like health insurance and superannuation. In some overseas countries, companies offer health insurance as a benefit, more so than in Australia I have found. Many countries have no reciprocity with Australia when it comes to Medicare and most Australian Health Funds won't cover you if living in another country. I have found Marsh a good option in this area. Then what to do about super? Plus what is the best way to relocate? and this may vary from country to country ie suspend on Australian payroll and locally hire in the new country? OR just relocate and continue to pay from Australian payroll. Another question related to LSL which does not accrue if working outside of Australia. And what about the certainty (if that is possible these days) of a job back here once their secondment is finished. Finally, I have found PWC to be top when it comes to providing tax advice to both the employee and the company.

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