Relocating employees Featured

6:23am EDT September 27, 2005
Relocating employees is sometimes an inevitable part of doing business. Reassessing your company’s relocation procedures now can save time, money and aggravation later for both you and your relocating employees.

The Employee Relocation Council (ERC), the trade organization for the industry, estimates the average cost of relocating an employee who is a homeowner at $70,773. In 1993, the national average was $45,263. In addition to this cost, the employee is often given a minimal amount of time to make the transition. ERC quotes a rate of 13 days to decide whether to accept the new job and the task of relocating, and just 27 days to report at the new location.

That’s why having systems in place and a solid relocation package to offer the transferring employee are crucial to a successful transition. Most major employers already have a relocation package in place. However, this package needs to be reevaluated every one to three years, as certain benefits may become outdated or there may now be a way to streamline benefits to be more cost effective. Hiring an outside party to help assess your employee relocation package is often the best way to stay competitive.

Third-party relocation companies are ideal for this task. Having such a company in your corner for transferring employees is also advisable. These firms have vast experience managing the relocating process and know how to make things happen in the proper sequence to avoid problems and delays down the road. Third-party relocation companies have also negotiated better rates on services, such as movers, because they deal with a much larger volume than your company alone.

Your company may find it helpful to check with the ERC about the relocation policies offered in your industry. The organization keeps a database of these relocation policies. It will give you the opportunity to see how your firm compares to others in your industry and help you make improvements, if necessary, to remain competitive.

Your company may be required to join ERC as a corporate member, but at less than $150 a year, the benefits will far outweigh the costs. Beyond service deals, other membership benefits include access to article archives, information and studies on trends in the industry, and a monthly relocation publication. (

It’s also advisable to conduct internal research about your own employees. Once you understand the demographics of your staff, you will have a clearer picture of their needs and your future costs. For instance, it costs more to move an employee who is a homeowner than a renter. By making it a point to know the percentage of employees who rent, who have children or who have dual-income households, you will be armed to tailor your firm’s relocation benefits package to these needs and lifestyles.

And finally, whether through a third-party relocation company or on your own, it is important to line up services in advance. This includes mortgage companies, movers, a local real estate broker and a broker source at the new location(s).

The relocation of employees is part of doing business in today’s global economy. Being efficient, having systems in place and a competitive relocation package will make such transitions a seamless part of your organization. And your relocating employees, whose lives are most affected by this change, will appreciate the effort and expertise with which your organization approaches this reorganization.

Kathy Connelly is the senior vice president of corporate services for Prudential Georgia Realty ( and has more than 19 years’ experience in the real estate and relocation industry. Having earned her Senior Certified Relocation Professional (SCRP) designation, Connelly has also received such as accolades as National Relocation Director of the Year and the Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Awards from the Employee Relocation Council. Reach her at or (770) 992-4100.