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How to support employees during an office relocation

Adam Ewart, CEO - Send My Bag
black and brown high rise buildings

Relocating to work in a new country can be a daunting prospect – and it’s important that businesses make sure employees feel supported throughout the process. Not only do they face uncertainties of starting a new role, there’s the added stressors of an unfamiliar city and country, potentially even a new language, and other cultural differences.

While there are many financial benefits to moving the location for business, the reality is that no one truly enjoys the moving part. It’s a stressful experience that requires a large amount of life admin on top of the transition of a day job, which can shake even very confident and senior employees.

Support mechanisms must be in place to ensure things run smoothly. Whether that’s with a comprehensive relocation package that offers guidance for every step along the way or just with HR guidance throughout, there are a few things employers and HR managers need to keep in mind.

Communication is key

Whether you offer a relocation service or not, you need to maintain a consistent line of communication with your employees throughout the process – and certainly don’t wait for them to ask about it. Poor communication can lead to stress, performance issues and high turnover rates for transferred employees. Business leaders need to manage expectations and fully outline the relocation process to keep their staff on board.

Choose the right employees to bring with you

Employers shouldn’t feel like they need to bring their entire workforce with them when they relocate offices. Someone who works well in one country may not operate at the same level abroad. Uprooting is tough and not everyone can cope with working away from friends and family, deal with the culture shock or adapt to new situations and surroundings.

For these reasons, employers should assess each staff member before offering any positions and check for any prior experience of working abroad. After all, the last thing you want as a business leader is to build your new office abroad and have your team jump ship.

Think beyond the employee

Once you’ve decided your team then you need to come up with a competitive relocation package that covers every piece of your employee’s life, including their spouse, children and other family commitments.

If your employees’ partner is moving with them but not relocating their job, then identifying career opportunities, evaluating any training opportunities and offering spousal assistant services will go a long way to making the transition easier. The stresses of relocation extend beyond the employee and family support must be factored into a relocation programme.

For example, employers also need to help employees identify options for temporary housing when they land. This could either be temporary housing or providing employees with a list of options for them to explore. Either way, don’t leave your employees floundering to find a landing pad for their relocation.

The same can be said for any children your employees may have. Employers should support them in finding schooling options where possible. If the children are moving mid-term, appointing someone to reach out to the school districts to find the best learning environment and any information the family will need to know to start school smoothly will also be necessary.

Think about the logistics

A successful office relocation is all about sorting out the logistics beforehand – and the move for your employees is no different. No matter how much time is spent planning, however, hiring a professional and reputable moving company is still the best way to put everyone at ease.

On the corporate relocation side, your employees will feel confident that their work equipment and files will arrive in an organised and timely manner, allowing them to easily pick up where they left off.

A stressful part of the office move for any employee can be the relocation of their own clothing and other belongings. Many companies will now either book a personal effects shipping company on behalf of the employee or provide them with an allowance to choose a company of their choice.

Although it may be a short-term financial hit to cover some of the employees’ moving costs, this is an investment which will always pay off. It’ll mean less ad-hoc time off and help your employees settle into their new surroundings much quicker.

Ultimately, when thinking about the relocation process it’s important to remember that relocating your company and employees is only a temporary headache. In time your business and employees will settle in, and it’ll be smooth sailing once again.

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