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Group Move Realities: Why Accepts are Slipping

Group Move Realities: Why Accepts are Slipping

Employee reluctance to relocate for a group move is fast approaching post-recession levels. To compare, here are a sampling of decline percentages over the years1:

  • 26% of employees declined in 2018
  • 18% of employees declined in 2017
  • 11% of employees declined in 2011
  • 29% of employees declined in 2009
  • 28% of employees declined in 2008

In fact, 6 out of 10 firms saw employees decline relocations in 2018. This is making group moves challenging for organizations looking to consolidate or establish headquarters in a new city. “It used to be that if you asked 150 employees to move to the new site, around 120 would accept,” says Ed Marshall, Practice Leader of Global Mobility. “Now, maybe 30% make the move.”

The acceptance time period is a major downside to group moves.

It often takes up to 12-24 months after the company first makes the group move announcement before an employee is provided the actual relocation offer and start date. “We are noticing an uptick in employees accepting the group move, but then canceling the relocation a few months later. With that much notice, they are able to find a job in their city before the move takes place,” Ed comments.

Individual employees who are asked to relocate (not as part of a group move) are expected to accept their offer to relocate much quicker. In some cases, 88% of these employees must accept within 30 days.

With every relocation comes a risk. The job might not work out. The family might not adjust. The repayment agreement might be more than they can handle. Employees are choosing to eliminate the risk all together by finding employment elsewhere.

Repayment agreements are no longer a sticking factor.

The talent market has shifted. Job seekers have choices they haven’t had in a while. Repayment agreements were once the sticking factor – keeping employees committed to the new role for up to 2 years after the relocation. For some, that agreement ranges from $50-150k that must be paid back to the organization if the employee leaves before a specified timeframe. However, this is no longer an obstacle for high-demand talent who relocate. Ed shares, “Recruiters from organizations are willing to pay that penalty for the employee if they accept a position at their company.”

Complexity is a main reason group moves don’t get high acceptance rates.

Logistically, group moves require more coordination and lead time. “Some of our clients are projecting their group moves years out.” Relocating employees and offices on a pre-determined time period makes it hard to make adjustments along the way. The expanded timeframe often makes people feel left in limbo. Once they receive the relocation program and offer, they have time on their side to seek employment locally and avoid uprooting their family.

These types of moves also create uncertainty for workers when multiple divisions are merging into one location. “The company’s need to move employees doesn’t always align with the employee’s reality about what the move will mean for them,” Ed points out.

It pays to be strategic about the location.

Getting employees to relocate is no longer a guarantee. Some companies are projecting where their workforce is coming from and setting up shop in those areas. “Adjusting your strategy to move to a city where your future workforce will be ensures greater success in a tight talent market,” shares Ed. And it makes up for the gaps you experience if your group move acceptance rates are slipping.

Feeling the pain of these realities? Group Move Assistance will help your employees see the benefits of relocation. Learn more here!

1 52nd Annual Atlas Corporate Relocation Survey, Atlas, 2019


Contribution by Ed Marshall.

Ed is a Practice Leader for Global Mobility at IMPACT Group. A member of Worldwide ERC®, Ed is a designated Senior Global Mobility Specialist-Talent (SGMS-T) and a Certified Relocation Professional (CRP). Connect with Ed on LinkedIn today.

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