7 strategies to develop a clearly focused mobility program!

Do You Have 20/20 Mobility Vision?

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

— Helen Keller

Over the last few years the war on talent has garnered our attention, just like the sound of roaring thunder coming through on a cool Sunday afternoon, reminding us all that companies are in relentless pursuit to attract the very best talent, which often includes a relocation. Onboarding (defined as “providing your new employees with a smooth relocation process, before you begin assisting and supporting them in developing the skills, knowledge, attitudes, etc., needed to be successful in the job) plays a significant role in attracting talent and starts when the candidate says, “YES!” Just ask companies like Facebook, Google, Zappos, and others that invest significant dollars to create a great experience for the candidate, once he or she has decided to work for their company. However many companies don’t think about the onboarding process at the beginning of the relocation, and often overlook the importance of this benefit of driving a great first impression for the entire family. We all know that relocation can be an exciting adventure and a fresh start for the family, but it can also be extremely stressful, especially when the spouse is leaving a great job or the children are leaving a school where they have made lots of friends. In order to attract, recruit, and relocate candidates, we need to develop a clear vision of the process for both the candidate and the family.

When I was two years old, the doctors found a tumor that was the size of a small potato behind my eye. My mom was pregnant with her fourth child and worried about me, I’m sure. The doctors advised that major surgery would be needed immediately to remove the tumor, or I would lose my eyesight. We didn’t have the money, but the Lions Club of Edmond, Oklahoma, stepped in to raise money for the surgery, and it was a success.  When I am driving, I can see the road just fine; but when I put on my glasses, my focus is enhanced. I am able to better read street signs, as a function of the improved clarity. I tell this story because with the right tools and partnership, we can bring anything we do more into focus and have a better experience, including relocation. Just like our partnership with the Lions Club to support our needs, building a partnership with a relocation provider can be instrumental in the success of onboarding candidates by providing comprehensive (not complex) services to meet financial goals, and driving a better experience for the candidate and family.

There may be some time invested on the front end to get things set up, but the results on the back end will far outweigh the initial time invested, and result in real ROI (Relationship Opportunity Increase!) achieved through retention.

This article is written to share strategies to help your team get closer to a 20/20 mobility vision with your program. With the help of corporate mobility leaders from Tenet Healthcare. Black Mountain Sand, and NTRP, we can get a much better vision for others to see!

Here are seven strategies to help shape a vision and develop a clearly focused program to relocate your talent as we approach 2020! 

  1. Start with WHY!

Simon Sinek recently published the book, Start With WHY, which is about being purposeful in all that we do. Employing that sound advice, we all need to be asking the following questions: Why do we relocate talent? Why do we use our current process, or provide the benefits we do for our candidates? Should we provide a managed lump sum? If so, why? Do we provide assistance for families to tour the community? Why or why not? Kelle Wortham and Shelley Giles with Tenet Healthcare recently shared, “Our department is involved from the beginning.  We meet weekly with our Executive Recruiters so we learn of openings as they occur, and work with the recruiters through the process of selecting and finalizing candidates.” Meeting with your team annually to discuss these questions and start some dialogue around the reasons behind the answers, will drive ideas and strategies to help you always be evolving your program and developing a better relocation experience for your candidates and their families. “It can be a challenge for Global Mobility to be at the table when the business being discussed is movement of employees and/or new hires,” observed Jane Woolston, 2019 North Texas Relocation Professionals (NTRP) President. Now is a great time to start the vision check-up process by leaning in and asking the questions around WHY.

  1. Onboarding Starts with YES

When I talk to HR leaders about onboarding, I often hear about the first day on the job. However, onboarding starts from the time the candidate accepts the position. Collaboration and alignment with stakeholders is critical for any onboarding program that strives for excellence, especially when it involves a relocation from one city to another. “First impressions are critical,” added Woolston of NTRP.  “Relocation is stressful for the new hire or employee and their dependents, so a competitive relocation benefits program and a smooth relocation process are the beginning of a successful onboarding or transfer to another location.”

Human Resources Director Paige Lueckemeyer with Black Mountain Sand said, “One of our core focuses is to provide the right products in the right basins. We can’t achieve that focus without getting the right people in the right basins, too! Being able to partner directly with a moving company enables our candidates to focus more on preparing for their upcoming role, rather than worry about how to get their personal belongings moved to their new home. This, in return, allows us to be a nimble workforce and capitalize on early opportunities with new team members that really set the tone for success! As the saying goes, first impressions are only granted once and providing candidate relocation is the first chance we get to make our team members feel like part of the family!”  One of the questions I have heard for years is, “Why aren’t mobility, HR and Talent Acquisition more in alignment from recruiting to onboarding?” Today I am seeing more stakeholder collaboration between HR, Talent Acquisition, and business unit leaders that is allowing companies to create a better experience for more successful programs. “Our department is involved in the onboarding process from scheduling area tours when they are a candidate to helping with estimating the cost of a relocation to a new facility. This process is very important to help manage expectations with the facility and the relocating employee. It opens the lines of communications and everyone has the information they need to make informed decisions, even before they accept a job offer,” remarked Wortham and Giles. It’s all connecting to determine what’s important for each department to be successful. This starts with taking the time to ask questions and start with a conversation. According to companies speaking at TalentNet in Dallas in November, 2018, 30-50% of new candidates come from employee referrals. It only makes sense to invest and align with all stakeholders to create the best mobility strategy!

  1. RMC or Moving Company …or Both?

In 2017, I published the book called Find Your Lane, which is about aligning your talent with your vision, mission and values for success. There are many ways to have success, but we need to FIND THE LANE that works best for us. Many times, the best mobility programs are aligned with company culture and FOCUSED on the employee experience when relocating. “With different employers I have been involved with both, and it is sometimes related to the size of the relocation program and/or the number of Global Mobility staff,” offered Woolston. There are many times that a company partners with an RMC (Relocation Management Company) to provide comprehensive services ranging from home marketing assistance to expense management. Some companies may choose a more simplified mobility approach, with a direct partnership for the household goods move while providing a lump sum to support any miscellaneous relocation expenses. There are also companies that have a vast array of industry experience which allows them to manage the entire program in-house. For example, Tenet Healthcare has over 75 years of industry experience in their relocation department to manage relocation “in-house.” According to Wortham and Giles, “As an in-house program we are responsible for all aspects of the move.  We have direct partnerships with the moving company, as well as with other excellent partners including title, mortgage, and real estate professionals around the country, that understand our culture and are an extension of our program to help our employees. We also move a lot of employees under a managed lump-sum as well, but even those range in complexity from a college-grad new hire to a neurosurgeon.”  In relocation, one size doesn’t fit all and it’s important to find the optimal “partnership lane” that works best for your team. Sometimes you may find a better solution by switching to an RMC, and other times you may want to manage the program in-house with a direct partnership approach. Find the lane that works best for your team!

  1. Develop/Update Your Policy

I once heard Dave Ramsey, the “Financial Guru,” talk about leaving a love letter for your loved ones in case something were to happen to you and they needed to have access to personal information. This letter includes financial passwords, email addresses, and websites for financial information. Years ago, I created this letter and placed it in a box for my wife in case she needed to access it. A few months ago, I pulled it out and realized that many of my login passwords had changed, and that there was some new information that needed to be added. Just like I needed to update this login access information, we all need to update our employee relocation policy to help create clarity when moving candidates. NTRP President Jane Woolston stated, “It’s best practice to review your relocation policy to determine if it meets the needs of the business, benchmarks the latest relocation benefit trends to the current relocation policy, and determines if current relocation benefits should be modified, including adding/deleting relocation benefits.” This also helps the relocation management company and/or moving company manage the moving process and stay updated regarding the benefits that are being offered to the candidate, before the move is initiated. According to Wortham and Giles at Tenet, their company “doesn’t update policy on a regular schedule, but as needed when tax law changes or needs arise within the company.”

  1. Flex Your Program

Being flexible is trending as we continue to move a younger and more mobile workforce, making it very important when relocating talent today. As I track trends in relocation, I find that having a flexible policy is the most important development I am seeing today. For example, if you offer a candidate a managed lump sum, and they don’t have any household goods to move or don’t need temp housing because they have a place to stay, then consider “flexing” to offer the candidate a substitute benefit such as an apartment search trip, or even a lump sum to pay for other expenses related to their relocation. Giles and Wortham shared that being an in-house program gives great flexibility in meeting the needs of candidates as well as hiring managers.

  1. Include Value-added Services

Value-add is defined by Webster as “something that adds value, a benefit, or enhancement”. Moving companies and RMC’s both have value-add in their corporate transportation agreements which includes full replacement valuation coverage for candidates moving their household goods for no additional cost. It’s set up as a value-add for being a partner! Companies aren’t typically aware of this “value-add” until they engage in a partnership which is the case for most value adds unless you engage in a conversation to find out about the benefits available, and at what cost. When companies think about traditional value-added services for relocation, they might consider things like home marketing assistance, temp housing, or perhaps apartment search. But there are so many other services available for the candidate to drive even a better experience depending on their needs. Many times, companies don’t ask the question or take the time to peek behind the curtain to see if the value might exceed the cost. Value-adds come in all shapes and sizes depending on the employee needs and might include additional services within these segments, such as unpacking the household goods move, an empty box pick up, or even a put-away cleaning service. Tenet Healthcare uses concierge unpacking services that helps families settle in quickly and have a functioning household, which allows the employee to get to his or her new job without worrying about finishing up the moving process. For real estate, companies might consider adding a staging service for the candidate to market their home more quickly, or an upgrade for an executive when staying at temp housing accommodations. Many times, a customer may not know what might be available, unless they engage in a discussion with a partner to help with providing the best experience or outcome, from both a cost and or quality perspective. In September 2018, NTRP corporate panelists talked about how a “spousal assistance program” might be something they would consider to help a candidate’s spouse settle in to the new community. Now is a great time to focus on value adds and how they might enhance your program.

  1. Benchmark for Excellence

I once read that we are the average of the five people we are surrounded by. But what about your company? Who is in your mobility network? Have you benchmarked your program lately to see if you are competitive in the marketplace? There are so many places to benchmark your benefits, starting with your relocation partners. Many times, providers will have industry benchmarking and trends that can give you incredible insight. Benchmarking isn’t only about comparing, but more about making sure you are in alignment with your business goals and objectives of relocating the right talent to the right places at the right time for the right cost.  Woolston mentioned that in her experience with different employers, 2-3 years is the norm to benchmark for excellence. Other research options include the WorldwideERC website  which is full of benchmarking and trends as well as the community forum for both corporate members and business partners. Both Giles and Wortham attend the corporate roundtables at WorldwideERC and local relocation meetings, and also work with other corporations.  “We make changes on an as-needed basis or in anticipation of the needs of our culture,” they observed. There are also other sites you can consider, but in any case make sure you are benchmarking your program for success. And perhaps you should ask yourself…When is the last time you did just that?

So how can you attract, recruit and retain the best talent among your candidates before you relocate them? My professional advice is to get a mobility vision check-up to make sure that you are seeing things from a 20/20 mobility perspective!

This mobility article was written by Bruce W. Waller and recently published in WorldwideERC Mobility magazine, March 2019,

…and can also be found on SHRM website.

Quote of the week:  “Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant.” -Anonymous

Call to Action: If you are managing mobility for your company, reach out to your partner and discuss some of these topics. If you aren’t in mobility, share this article with someone you know. It might be the information they are looking for to help them focus on the things that matter when relocating talent. Let me know if you need a partner. I would enjoy helping you too!

This has been A Relocation Minute on “2020 mobility vision” with Bruce Waller, for more information, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com or check out my social media Facebook and Twitter page. Also, check out www.BruceWaller.com to review my leadership book “Find Your Lane” available on amazon.

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