Millions of people change jobs every year. Many more keep their jobs but move to new locations, either because they’re transferred (or move on their own) or because the entire office moves. There are many reasons why an employee may need to adjust to a new location. A huge part of retention, both for new hires and transferred employees, is making them feel comfortable in the new location. The question is, how can you do it?
Determine the Scope
The first thing you need to do is determine the scope of the move. The resources, support, and planning necessary to help an employee adjust to a new office will be very different if they’re moving across town (and still live in their current home) or if they’re moving across the country, or even to another country entirely.
Consider a modular plan for the rest of this post. Some of what we’ll mention is only relevant for longer cross-country moves, while some can be relevant to anyone.
Provide Vetted Movers
If your employee needs to move homes from one location to another – whether it’s across the city, across the country, or to a new country – it can help them a ton to provide a moving service. However, you want to make sure you’re hiring a high-quality moving service. Nothing is worse than the first impression of the new area an employee will have if their stuff is damaged or lost in transit. While accidents can happen, a vetted, insured, high-quality mover can go a long way towards easing the transition.
A relocation package can take different forms. Some companies prefer to provide a stipend or expense account for the purpose or reimburse moving costs up to a particular value. Others will provide specific connections and contracts for transfers to use or opt to skip if they don’t want to use them. It’s up to you to decide what to offer, balancing what’s best for your employees against the expenses and overhead involved in managing them.
Link Their Spouse to Career Change Services
If your employee has a spouse or family they want to bring along with them, one thing that can ease their transition is providing connections to services that can help them out with their career. Sometimes the spouse can take care of themselves and already has a job lined up or can work from home. Sometimes they’re perfectly willing and able to be a stay-at-home parent or work on a side hustle. Other times, not having a job lined up puts them in a challenging position.
This only matters if the employee in question has a spouse, significant other, or family they’re bringing with them. This can be left out of the package if no such concern is relevant to the employee being transferred.
Provide Housing Resources
Another part of before-the-move preparation is lining up a place to live. Your employee will want to pick a place to live that meets their needs, and their needs will be different than what other employees want or need themselves. You have several options here.
First, you can provide links to housing resources. A real estate agent that works with your company, for example, can help your employee find housing suitable to their needs. Alternatively, housing directories and recommendations can be more than enough. You can also consider connecting your employee to a local resident who can provide ground-level discussions of different areas of the city for a more nuanced discussion about where to live.
Provide Local Guides
Like a local guide for housing, a local guide for the city can be a great boon to helping a new employee settle into a new location. After all, they want to feel at home not just in the workplace but in their new residence. That can mean anything from introducing them to local restaurants, providing recommendations for local attractions and entertainment, or just connecting them with local employees who can answer questions they may have.
Remember, every employee is different. One might be more concerned about where the local bars are, while another wants to know about hiking trails, and another is interested in concert venues. That’s why your local guide should be someone on your roster; someone who knows the area and has similar tastes, such that they can provide relevant recommendations.
Provide Support for New Expenses
Depending on the scale of move the new employee is undertaking, they may have new expenses that they didn’t before. For example, maybe they had free parking at their old office, but now have to pay for parking in their new office, pay for public transportation, or pay for more expensive car registration.
These kinds of unexpected cost of living adjustments can be factored into a change in salary from one location to another, or they can be separate reimbursements or stipends. Many companies offer to pay for public transportation bus passes, train passes, and more. Again, this depends on what your company can provide as support and what is relevant in your area. Many companies operate out of places that don’t have those kinds of expenses, so it’s a moot point.
Assign a Local Mentor
One of the best things you can do for a new employee, whether they’re a fresh new hire or a transfer from another facility who has been working with your company for years, is to assign them a local mentor. This local mentor’s role will change depending on the employee.
They will generally have three duties, however.
- Help the employee settle in at the new office. Showing them around, helping them out with connections to managers, IT, HR, and other departments, recommending places to go for lunch, and generally becoming a social connection in the office. You need to pick a personable and friendly employee to fill this role.
- Help the employee settle in at their new city or country. If your new transfer or hire is new to the area, their mentor should be able to help them out with the area, at least to some extent. They don’t need to be a chaperone or tour guide, but they should at least be capable of pointing the new employee in the right direction.
- Help the employee settle into their job. If the transferred employee is taking up a new role, especially a leadership role, assigning a mentor who can help them get to know people and office culture can be a great help.
All of this is part and parcel of a good onboarding process and can easily get adapted for an employee who already works for the company and is familiar, at least, with overarching policies and the way things work. As always, however, it’s the devil in the details that causes problems.
“The benefits of a good mentoring program are felt by both parties. The mentor feels they are giving something back to the department by sharing accumulated knowledge and experience. They gain a better understanding of themselves through helping others and maintains or creates a fresh perspective. The new employee will have access to quick advice and guidance, encouragement and clear information, and honest feedback. Their integration to the organization will be quick as they will have help in understanding the culture of the organization.” – Pivotal Solutions.
Assign a List of Representatives
One of the most essential resources for a new transfer is their list of resources. This list should include specific people assigned to help them with various problems that can crop up.
The list should include:
- Contact information for their direct manager or team leader, who can guide them on company questions.
- A dedicated HR account representative familiar with their situation, who can help navigate unusual paperwork like that involving reimbursements and financial information.
- Information on their mentor, as mentioned above.
There may be other relevant individuals, such as team leaders, direct reports, or people they will be working with regularly. You may also want to make sure they have a directory of information to contact their peers if they need to for one reason or another.
“Employee information forms provide key data on employees that can be used to keep track of who worked for the company, when, and in what positions. It can also get used as an emergency contact information form in the event of any serious workplace injury.” – BetterTeam.
Just make sure this isn’t breaching the privacy of any of your employees to do so.
Provide Guided Introductions
One of the worst things you can do with a new employee is to leave them floundering and fending for themselves. Thus, introducing them to everyone relevant in the office is an excellent way to make sure they’re part of the group as soon as possible.
It can be daunting, of course, to introduce a new employee to dozens or hundreds of people. Standing them up at an all-hands meeting and introducing them round-robin style isn’t very practical for teams or groups of more than five or ten people. In those cases, introducing them to their team is more important.
“Once a start date is established for an employee,” adds Britton, ” the supervisor should immediately start coordinating with all parties that will be involved in the person’s onboarding — including the HR representative, front desk team, and relevant team members — to make sure all the necessary meetings are scheduled, supplies and equipment are available, and access to network or security systems is provided.” – Wagepoint.
This also goes both ways. Prepare your team for their new member by providing them basic information ahead of time, so it’s not a surprise. The more awareness your team can have of each other, the easier it is for your new employee to find their role and join the community.
Consider a Company, Department, or Team Outing
Different companies have different options on this front. Some are more casual and can take the team out for lunch one day to get everyone in a less rigid social setting. Others might do an office cocktail party to introduce and socialize the new hire. Still, others might not be able to swing anything more than office doughnuts around the water cooler.
It depends on culture and budget as much as anything else.
“For more in-depth bonding, host a company-wide outing to an entertainment venue, such as a bowling alley or mini-golf course. Out-of-office events are relatively cheap, but provide high ROI in company culture.” – Simple Moving Labor.
The tricky part here is ensuring equity across different departments for larger companies. Jealousy and resentment can crop up if one team is rewarded for high turnover by regular social outings, while another steady team doesn’t get anything. It’s something to keep an eye on as you onboard new employees. Speaking of onboarding…
Develop an Onboarding Process
A good onboarding process is a massive part of helping a new hire settle in. A lot of the onboarding process will cover much of what we’ve mentioned today, but there’s some nuance and differences to consider as well.
Also, remember that you can’t just make a one-size-fits-all onboarding process and expect it to work. A low-level employee and a high-level employee need different onboarding. So, too, do new employees versus transferred employees. Context is everything.
“The worst thing for a new employee is being wooed through the recruiting process and then arriving on the job, and the receptionist isn’t even expecting you or your office isn’t set up.” – Ben Peterson, Bamboo HR, via SHRM.
Once you’ve gone through this list and implemented it as much as possible, you should be well on your way to providing a positive environment for a new transfer or hire. Your new employee can settle in and feel like part of the team with minimal downtime, and that helps keep them around instead of searching for greener pastures when they don’t quite fit in. And really, what more can you ask for?
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the employee relocation process and what you can do for them, please feel free to leave a comment down below, and we’ll get a conversation started! We’d love to assist you however we can.
Andrew Greenberg’s roots in recruiting date back to 1996. He has experience both on the agency-side and corporate-side of the staffing business, with a focus in the financial services space at companies like Bloomberg and UBS. He also has core experience with information technology staffing, and has worked for major software companies such as SAP Business Objects and IBM/Informix Software. To get in touch with Andrew, you can reach him by email or by phone at (800) 797-6160.