Workforce.com

Maximizing Relocation Expertise

April 23, 2002

Technology is not only helping to cut relocation costs, it’s also making HR more efficient and is giving the transferee greater self-sufficiency and control over the move.

Two years ago, Tom Marshall, relocation manager for Wilmington, Delaware-based E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, decided it was time to rethink how the organization was using technology. With 1,000 moves per year, both international and domestic, the company handles the entire relocation process in-house. “Technology is a key piece to how we track, maintain, and report all the information regarding those relocations, and how we serve the employees,” he says. “Our business results have been impressive. We’re managing both the relocation services and an Internet site, called Du Pont Moving Solutions, with the same staff, and technology is the key to being able to do that.”

Here are some of the business results Marshall achieved on a shoestring:

Given a small technology budget, Marshall had to use everything in the company that could help his department. He created a technology team to comb the firm and examine the resources available. The team concentrated on four areas: an updated tracking system, intranet possibilities, expanding international service, and linking to the Internet.

Tracking systems. The company had a legacy system that needed to be replaced. Using available funds, Marshall created a customized system called Relo*Trac from an off-the-shelf program called Recap so that HR could easily trace each person’s relocation activity and cost.

    Company intranet. The tech team created an intranet site that would provide information to make transferees more self-sufficient, reduce the number of calls to HR for basic information, and make it easier for the employee’s family to find information. They posted the policy, links to different service providers and to other necessary company resources, such as the work-family program and EAP, and links to the IRS. The intranet site is available (via a secure system) to employees at home so families also have easy access.

Adding international services. One of the most enthusiastically received initiatives is the international section. Information on immigration, repatriation, and the company’s tax firm, for example, as well as the international policy, will be available to expatriates, who have always found it difficult to work in real time.

Internet possibilities. The team created an area on the company’s Internet site, called DuPont Moving Solutions, that provides services to the general public. Marshall sees this as a potential revenue generator, and initiated it because of repeated requests from people who had moved with the company years before and needed the same kinds of resources, such as real estate appraisals, address-change requests, and movers.

At Ford Motor Company, a password-protected Web site for employees who accept relocation was also created. With a goal of trying to relieve employee stress at a very difficult time, HR created a site that provides a full range of relocation-related information and services.

There are links to service providers, maps, weather information, child-care facilities, pet care, school-system statistics, even a children’s site where the kids can learn about relocating to their new home. “People use it frequently and everyone loves it,” says Cheryl Sawicki-Ritchie, human resource associate. “It saves a lot of time for us in trying to explain everything. Now, we try to make sure people read and do research before they call to ask questions.”

How to start:

  1. Create a survey for transferring employees. Ask what information they need online.

  2. Cull data from employees who have made previous moves.

  3. Poll others in HR to gather frequently asked questions relocation questions. To develop a cost-effective program, be clear about your needs; define objectives.

  4. Create a team that looks at what the rest of the company is doing with technology and implement the best ideas in your own department.

Workforce, May 2002, p. 36 -- Subscribe Now!