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How the talent shortage is fueling the ‘Great Relocation’

Paul Bennett, CEO and co-founder - PerchPeek

It’s no secret there is a severe shortage of job candidates in the UK. But things are looking pretty bleak for employers who are now facing the biggest shortage on record due to the pandemic and Brexit – and, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), it’s pushing up starting pay for permanent staff at an unprecedented pace.

Companies are now faced with competing against each other to find new sources of talent and offer creative benefits to retain them for the long-term. Many are trying to snap up talent overseas by either offering them fully remote work or, for those employees that want a change in scenery, enticing them to relocate from around the world.

The latter is showing some significant promise. After all, there is a huge amount of great talent available in other markets who are hungry for higher than average salaries in the UK, plus companies are far more likely to retain people if they offer employees greater flexibility, choice and work/life balance – something all of us have come to expect post-Covid. Many have even shown an appetite to try working in a new country and culture.

In fact, recent research reveals that 79% of employees would consider moving abroad. And yet the prospect of relocating to a new country without guidance is extremely challenging – involving a lot of paperwork, time, money and stress, and that is where companies can offer relocation support as an effective way to attract this talent, as well as retain it.

Employers are looking to match the appetite for moving abroad by offering competitive relocation packages which will support employees throughout the relocation process. The benefit of building a strong relocation offering is that it allows access to employees from a broader, more global talent pool, whilst making a company more attractive to that talent. And it gives employees the best start at success and retention. A win-win.

The problem is that, historically, relocation policies have been tailored towards senior executives, for example to move leadership to a new country to set up an office, or to learn about aspects of the wider global business. The relocation policies catered to these individuals are usually at price points far too high to support less senior talent, and is not realistic as an option to support this younger, mobile first generation of relocators. 

On top of this, more traditional policies are often too fragmented for “digital-native” populations. There are typically 20 to 30 processes involved in one relocation – from finding a home and setting up a bank account through to shipping belongings – and these are often managed across various platforms and by using a range of communication methods such as multiple email threads, PDF attachments and phone calls. This type of experience doesn’t line up with the high-convenience, digital experience that younger generations are accustomed to.

The high costs and digitally “unfriendly” nature of traditional relocation policies has led to a rising trend in employers giving their employees a lump sum of money– so they can go and figure the relocation out themselves. However, without any real support or guidance, they can be left feeling stressed and abandoned which leads to a lot of extra challenges for HR leaders.

This is the wrong way of doing things – especially when you consider that a relocating employee is going through a new role, new company, new boss, new country and new city. 

The three biggest causes of relocation failure are lack of local support, poorly managed expectations and family being unhappy and struggling to adjust to the new location. None of these are catered to if an employer simply hands over a lump sum of money.

Companies spend tons on recruitment so they need to show the same level of investment in helping their new recruits settle into their new life. Otherwise, they’ll be back to square one.  

Times are changing for the better though, thanks to innovations in HR technology that make great relocation support more easily delivered at lower price points. In fact, there are now platforms that guide employees through every stage of their move without the stress – from helping them find a great home in the right neighbourhood to shipping their belongings (and pets), setting up a bank account and sorting their utilities. Many of these providers also have experts on-hand to give personalised recommendations for properties, organise viewings and help plan facilities and amenities so movers quickly arrive at the right relocation option. This will only make moving less stressful.

Both existing relocation providers and forward thinking companies are now taking advantage of these innovations to improve the employee experience of relocating around the world. For existing providers, innovations allow them to add value to their existing client base while companies can support their employees in what’s a high stress, hugely important time in their lives.

Impala Travel, for instance, recently added a relocation service to its company benefits package which offers its employees affordable, flexible relocations to anywhere in Europe, as well as allowing the business to attract top talent. INEOS – the global chemical company behind INEOS Britannia, the British sailing team in America’s Cup – is doing the same so it can relocate its boatbuilders from around the world to the UK.

And, with borders starting to open up (again), more employers will follow in their footsteps to entice talent to move around the world and close the severe skills gap. Most are finding they have no choice but to look further afield if they want to attract great people at all levels. The reality is that the previously unsupported can now be supported, and employers and employees alike can take advantage of relocation support at a more accessible price.

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