If your company regularly transfers employees, you should have a formal relocation policy. Having a written document available ensures everyone at the business—from upper management to new hires—knows if they qualify for relocation benefits and what they are.
A good relocation policy is more effective than running an informal program for several reasons.
- Everyone is on the same page: There’s no confusion about what relocation benefits are available or how employees qualify.
- Your relocation program is streamlined: You create optimal processes and use them with every relocation. Using proven best practices helps you make relocations successful and avoids costly mistakes.
- Consistency and fairness: Employees know they have access to the same benefits as others in their position across the organization.
- It supports employees: A policy gives employees the help they need to navigate what can be a stressful time.
However, creating a policy isn’t easy—especially for the first time.
It can be tempting to organize relocations informally on a case-by-case basis to avoid the upfront pain of building a reliable process.
And we’re here to help.
When building relocation policies, we ask clients six key questions. Answering them helps clarify your relocation policy needs.
Let’s get started.
Six Questions to Answer When Creating a Relocation Policy
1) What Is the Purpose of Your Relocation Program?
The purpose of your relocation program will hugely influence the contents of your policy. This is because different goals have different needs. For example:
- A policy designed to attract recently graduated entry-level talent needs benefits like payments to cover shipping costs, flights, or rental deposits. The policy will define how much employees can spend on these items and how they can be reimbursed.
- A policy designed to help experienced managers relocate to offices in different parts of the country needs stipulations to help with buying and selling property. It may also include family allowances.
- A policy designed for temporary international transfers may require a defined budget for renting new property and flights. It may also cover trips to scope out the new location.
2) What Is Your Company’s Budget?
Being clear about how much you can spend moving employees will define the types of benefits and services you can offer.
You will need to create budgets and policies for different goals. For example, the cost of helping a long-term employee sell their home and move their entire family internationally will typically be a lot more than helping new hires settle in a new location.
When creating your policy, strike a balance between one that is both attractive to employees and cost-effective for the company.
ARC Relocation has access to relocation policy data from hundreds of companies. We use this information to advise you on the types of benefits commonly offered by others in your industry—a huge help when creating your own policy.
Remember that a good relocation policy can save money in the long-run—even if it means spending more upfront. The cost of rehiring and training a new employee due to a previous unsuccessful relocation may be far greater than creating a generous relocation policy in the first place.
3) How Will You Measure Success?
Once you know the goals of your program, you’ll need metrics that evaluate its success.
Here are some factors you can measure:
- If your program aims to make your company attractive to new hires, you’ll need to define whether you are getting better candidates, as well as if these candidates are settling in.
- If you created a policy to save money on relocations, you can measure the total cost per relocation before and after your policy.
- Better employee turnover rates post-relocation can suggest that your new policy is helping transferred employees settle into their new roles.
- Another critical factor is the influence of transferred employees on key projects. Have they had the anticipated impact on the work they moved there to do?
While it may take time for the success of your new relocation policy to become apparent, you must begin to measure its effectiveness as soon as possible so you can consistently iterate.
4) When Was the Last Time You Reviewed Your Relocation Policy?
There are many reasons why you might need to change your relocation policy, so it is essential to review yours regularly. Here are some factors that could result in an outdated policy:
The benefits you offered when you created your program are no longer competitive and need to be updated.
Reasons for relocation at your company may be expanding or changing. For example, you may have more employees moving internationally than when you created the program.
Relocation policies often become convoluted over time. Repeated small changes to a previously clear policy can result in confusion.
Ensuring your relocation policy is up-to-date and accurately reflects your—and your employees’—requirements will result in a smoother, more effective relocation process.
5) What Are the Current Issues with Your Relocation Program?
Many of our clients have existing relocation policies that aren’t working for them. If this is the case at your company, it’s essential to define the problems you have with your current program. Once you understand the issues, you can begin to work on solutions.
Some ways you could improve your program include:
- Increasing budgets and stipends to make policies more attractive.
- Adding a Guaranteed Buyer Option if long home sales are slowing down moves.
- Partnering with trusted firms that can help with practicalities.
Building a process to gather feedback from employees and team members engaged in relocation can help uncover flaws in your approach.
6) When Was the Last Time You Used a Relocation Policy Benchmarking Service?
Relocation policy benchmarking helps companies create benefits that are competitive within their industry. An attractive offer ensures you can hire and retain top talent without overspending.
At ARC Relocation, we have data from hundreds of relocation policies across most industries. We use this information to inform our clients of best practices. We provide reports on details such as average costs, average time, and standard exceptions.
Relocation Policy Samples
Sample policies are often the best way to know what your company should include. In the section below, we have six relocation policy samples with slightly different aims and stipulations.
Each policy covers similar points. For example:
- The type of benefits you offer
- Who is eligible for the benefits
- The conditions employees must meet
- Reimbursement requirements
- Repayment agreements
- How eligible employees can take up the offer.
These are just general examples of the type of policy you can create. For more comprehensive benchmarking services, contact our team. Or see further information about example relocation policies here.
This example relocation policy includes Buyer Value Option (BVO) stipulations. This is an option where the company incurs the costs for the sale of the employee’s property and marks them down as tax-deductible expenses. It’s a suitable policy to use when relocations involve home sales. You can find out more about Buyer Value Option and its benefits here.
This example policy is for companies that want to offer a capped budget. It explains what the employee can spend the budget on and how they can do so to guarantee reimbursement.
This policy contains information about a Guaranteed Buyout Option, which is when the company agrees to purchase the employee’s home. It’s a useful option to include if you find that slow property sales block the relocation process. Read more about Guaranteed Buyout Options here.
This policy is for employees that are moving internationally. It contains stipulations relating to house-hunting, settling into the new country, and purchasing a new home.
This relocation policy is a suitable example for companies that want to offer a lump sum allowance to relocating employees. It includes a repayment agreement employees should sign that explains what they will be expected to pay back if they voluntarily leave the company.
This relocation policy contains stipulations specifically related to domestic moves. These include home-finding trips, van hire and what to do in the event of lease terminations.
To discuss your relocation with one of our experts, please get in touch here.
In his role as Director of Business Development at ARC Bill oversees all aspects of the growth initiatives for both government and corporate clients, domestically and globally. Bill graduated from George Mason University with a BA in Psychology and has been in the relocation industry since 2000. Bill has earned both his SCRP and GMS designations from ERC. Bill is the former President for the Greater Washington Area Employee Relocation Council (GWERC), ERC content committee member, ERC Ambassador, the recipient of the ERC’s “Meritorious Service Award” and “Distinguished Service Award”.