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<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Persuade Our Well-Trained Workforce to Relocate

July 19, 2007
Dear Desperate for Answers:

The cost of replacing a staff such as yours, well-trained and with a considerable number of years spent with the company, would be steep as much--as one and a half times current salaries. With that in mind, you'll want to provide the most bang for your buck in relocation benefits. In today's softer real estate market, that translates to helping them sell their homes or providing special mortgage programs as incentive for moving.
A relocation company can help you explore those options and identify the most cost- effective alternatives. Because your move does not meet the federal tax-deductible guidelines, any allowances or benefits employees receive are likely to be taxable. Most companies today will "tax protect" the employee. Should you follow a similar strategy, it would thereby increase your costs.
If you opt for providing any allowances or benefits, I'd strongly recommended using a payback agreement, which would require employees who opt to leave the company within a certain time after the move to repay the cost of their relocations. Such agreements are quite common and help to discourage attrition while ensuring that you retain this valuable staff.
To further accelerate your growth plans and overcome reluctance to relocate, you may also consider offering a variety of "sweeteners," such as a moving allowance or commuter allowance. You might also partner with a real estate provider in the destination location to develop an orientation program for these employees to help sell the advantages of the new location. For example, maybe the schools are better or the tax rate lower.
Whichever road you choose, a clearly documented policy that can be presented to the employees as part of the deal may encourage a higher acceptance rate and be useful as a reference document during their move.
SOURCE: Ellie Sullivan, director of consulting, Weichert Relocation Resources, Morris Plains, New Jersey, July 25, 2006.
LEARN MORE: Please see The State of Relocation for more information on HR's role in relocating employees. Also of note: Relocation Strategies for Uncertain Times.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.