Top Five Most Stressful Life Events (as determined by psychiatrists Holmes & Rahe in 1967)
1. Death of a Loved One
4. Major Illness
5. Loss of Job
In many cases your corporate transplant has just experienced TWO of the top 5 most stressful life events (move and loss of job) when they begin work at their new job. And, the time and money you spent relocating this new executive is probably enough to make your want to insure the success of this transition as well. One organization that tracks corporate relocation costs (Worldwide ERC) reports the average cost of a US domestic transfer for someone who owns a home is between $70,000 and $90,000, so you need this relocation to stick!
So, after your company has gone to these lengths to get the best person for the job, what kinds of things can you do to insure the employee’s retention? Assuming the job fit is good, what outside factors could ruin this successful recruitment?
Chances are your new transplant is working 16 hour days, leaving the spouse and kids to fend for themselves at home. This is a powder keg waiting to go off. Fast forward 9 months and you can see how the homefront might be so stressful that the employee caves to family pressures and resigns to go back home. Every year Atlas Van Lines conducts a Corporate Relocation Survey to keep track of trends in the industry. And every year they find out that 4 of the top 5 reasons that people give for declining a relocation have nothing to do with the job itself but are family & personal reasons. And these are the exact same reasons an employee will resign in the first 18 months as well. Cited as reasons for refusing a relocation:
- deep roots in their current community (and if they don’t form them in their new town, this becomes an issue)
- family ties (and if they left their support network behind, there is extra stress in the house)
- unfamiliarity with destination city (and if your firm doesn’t provide them with more than just a housing tour, they will never really feel at home)
- concern about spouse or partner being able to find a job (providing spousal career support is so important)
Pay attention to water cooler conversation with your new employee. Try to spot red flags before they become too big to fix. Did their spouse give up a great job to move here? Will the employee be living on their own for 6 months before the family is able to join them? Are there high school kids involved in the move that could potentially derail the smooth transition if they aren’t quickly connected to other kids their own age? Did they quickly buy a house before they even knew the personality of the neighborhoods and now they regret their choices? Did the family have a hobby or interest that they left behind (skiing, birdwatching, volunteering for the local dog shelter) and can you reconnect them with locals who are passionate about those same things?
Companies like Executive Arrangements can help mitigate every one of these issues. Boutique relocation firms that specialize in destination services can provide the support to the family during their first year in Cleveland, Akron or Canton. EA’s holistic approach to a corporate relocation insures that every issue, concern and need is uncovered and dealt with so the whole family is on board during and after the move. Personalized orientation tours of the community help them pick the right neighborhood and school for their family. Our detailed relocation packet (or as we lovingly call it, The Cleveland/Akron Bible) provides them with all the info they need about their new town in one 3 ring binder designed to have a shelf life of more than a year. Connections to local community members who share similar interests and backgrounds can help begin their social circles so they feel like they have a life here, outside of the office.
A few more insights into how relocation impacts the whole family:
Kids Eye View – relocating families with children
Have any stories you’d like to share about a recent relocation gone good or bad? Leave us a comment so we can all learn from each other!