Per the Worldwide ERC® Guide for Managing the Mobile Workforce, a group move is the relocation of a significant number of employees as a group on a planned and scheduled basis from one or more locations to one or more locations. While group moves can include thousands of employees, they typically involve groups between 25 to a few hundred. Even moving as few as 25 employees as a group from one location to another over a limited time is a significant undertaking.
Based on our experience, the following are elements of a successful group move.
Key internal stakeholders must all agree to why a group move is taking place for it to be successful. They should also clearly define the scope of the group move – why they are doing the move, the exact group or groups that are impacted (especially if the entire organization is not affected), their retention goals, and cost tolerance.
- Decisions need to be made regarding which positions would be asked to relocate
- Employees should be selected based on documented performance measures/job level or function
Once the group move is approved, key internal stakeholders need to be included in developing the group move policy and strategy. Create a plan in alignment with the company’s strategy for the job offer process and communication. Once the group move scope is defined, a timeline should be developed to cover critical points of communications:
- Announcement of group move to the employees selected to potentially be relocated
- Establishment of dates regarding when the employees have to accept the relocation and when they need to be in the new location
- Determination of timing for HR to meet with individuals impacted to answer any general work related questions
Employees should be given a timeline to make the decision whether or not they want to accept the relocation. This will allow management time to quickly determine a game plan for the positions that are left vacant in the departure and destination locations. A timeline is important to establish what will need to happen before the announcement, as well as in between the announcement and the move-commitment deadline.
In addition to the internal planning taking place at the company, your relocation management company should be brought into the process at this point to assist in developing a policy based on the specific retention goals of the company. For example, home sale benefits could be enhanced to 100% loss-on-sale coverage to entice the employee to accept the move. If retention goals are high, a richer policy should be established in order to entice employees to accept the move – such as adding benefits like spousal assistance, a Guaranteed Buyout or Buyer Value Option home sale program (if not currently offered), and offering new home purchase to all policy levels – are common. However, if retention rates are not a concern, a more conservative policy structure may be warranted – such as lump sums or lumps sum plus household goods for most employees with a more generous policy for executives/critical roles.
Corporate mobility team and relocation management company (RMC) team need to meet to discuss the details of the group move, including:
- Departure and destination locations
On-site group meetings (typically at the departure location) should be held after the announcement of the group move and prior to the acceptance date for the employees. A series of group move meetings are held to educate the employees on details of the group move, allowing them to make an educated decision to accept or reject the offer.
- The client and RMC need to collaborate and create a presentation to be shared during the on-site area meetings, outlining the corporation’s role, RMC’s role, real estate market details, and the policy benefits.
- The general group move meetings should include the following individuals:
- Key management from the corporation, including stakeholders from human resources and operations; will introduce the group move, remind employees of the critical dates and strategic goals, and answer general questions
- Key RMC team members (typically account management and consulting services team members; will present on RMC’s role throughout the group move and to review the policy benefits
- Real estate partners from the destination location who can discuss real estate market/trends, housing availability/affordability, location risk/opportunity factors, details of the destination location (entertainment/social offerings)
After the group move meetings, one-on-one counseling sessions with the RMC are often made available so that employees can ask specific or personal questions. Family group move presentations can also be done in order to allow family members to ask questions regarding the move and gain a better understanding of the process. Flexibility is important to accommodate spouses/partners, business travelers, and employees.
Upfront education of the employee and family members greatly increases the odds of a high acceptance rate, provided a policy that meets their needs is available, and they receive ongoing support during the process from their company, the RMC, and third-party service providers (such as real estate agents and van lines). Ultimately, group moves require a high level of sensitivity. Communication and setting expectations on the front-end are the keys to success.