SHRM’s 2018 Employee Benefits Study assessed the prevalence of more than 300 employee relocation benefits and found that lump sum payments are the single most popular relocation benefit offered by the surveyed companies, offered by 28% of responding companies. Other relocation benefits most offered in 2018 included temporary relocation benefits (16% of companies), location visit assistance (16%), reimbursement of shipping fees (12%), and cost-of-living differentials (11%).
However, just as important as understanding the most popular benefits to relocating employees is understanding which benefits are less popular. Because companies periodically reassess their relocation policies to ensure they are remaining competitive in the marketplace and offering benefits employees currently want and use, it’s important to know which benefits have become less necessary and desirable.
Less Popular Relocation Benefits
Loss on Sale
Most companies removed the loss on sale benefit from their policies during the 2008-2009 recession. So many homeowners owed more than their homes were worth that costs spiraled for companies. In most parts of the country, the real estate market has recovered from the effects of the recession, though some employees who have purchased in the past few years in expensive markets could face a loss if they have to sell now. If companies offer a loss on sale benefit, it is usually only in the Executive tier, or sometimes on an exception basis.
Home Marketing Allowance
Some companies provide employees with a home marketing allowance to defray the costs of preparing the home for sale and marketing it. Employees can use this benefit to make simple cosmetic improvements, address needed repairs uncovered in a home inspection or cover any buyer’s concessions or agent bonuses. The miscellaneous expense allowance has largely superseded this allowance.
Home Sale Bonus
To encourage a timely sale, some companies offer a home sale bonus. This is a time-limited payment, designed to encourage consideration of all bona fide offers and a rapid sale. The faster sale reduces employer costs and returns employees to productivity more quickly. Companies are using this benefit less frequently, but it is sometimes part of a GBO program. The idea is to incentivize employees to entertain all offers, thus reducing the potential of homes coming into inventory.
Duplicate housing is a benefit that has decreased in popularity in recent years due to the strong real estate market. The need for duplicate housing arises if the transferring employee has secured permanent housing in the new location but is still covering a mortgage or a rent payment in the departure location. Companies used this program in lieu of temporary accommodations, with the company reimbursing the lower of the two payments for a specific period (typically the same amount of time that the company would have offered for temporary housing). Companies sometimes offer this benefit in the Executive tier or on an exception basis.
Spouse Career Assistance
Companies today offer spouse career assistance infrequently for domestic moves. With a full-employment economy and the possibility of remote work arrangements, it is simpler for spouses/partners to continue their career or even their current position in the new location. Some companies include this benefit as part of a core-flex program, or on an exception basis for must-have talent.
Next Steps with your Employee Relocation Benefits?
In addition to taking a fresh look at your domestic relocation benefits and assessing whether they are supporting the company’s talent management objectives, it’s also a good idea to survey your transferring employees on their perceptions of your relocation package benefits and how well they met their needs.