Our Chicago office recently completed its annual fundraiser for breast cancer awareness, raising over $3,300 to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Each hour of BCRF research costs $50.00, so our colleagues set their goal at $3000 for 60 hours of research — a goal they proudly surpassed!
To mark the occasion, the team dressed in pink, served “pink food” and created a memory wall to honor those lost to this disease and those who are surviving it.
Meanwhile, colleagues in our Weichert Real Estate Support Services office in Boston hosted a charity event and bake sale to benefit Susan G Komen for the Cure. With 100% participation across the office, the team assembled a dozen homemade baskets to raffle off (in addition to the baked goods), earning close to $1000 for this worthy cause.
Well done, team!
Our friends at Fragomen report that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have received — as of April 15th — approximately 13,600 filings against the 65,000 standard H-1B cap, and 5,800 filings against the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. Since the first cap count was initially released filings have grown only modestly, but could increase more quickly with the approach of university graduation season in May and June.
Separately, immigration services in many countries were swamped with unexpected issues as flight delays due to the Icelandic volcano caused travelers to remain in their host destination beyond their authorized period of stay.
For more information as well as other global immigration news this past week from Panama, Qatar, the European Union and the United States, visit Fragomen’s site.
One of the challenges companies are faced with in relocating senior-level executives is that these employees typically own higher-priced homes that are difficult to move in recovering markets. A recent study by the National Association of Realtors, however, shows that sales of homes priced above $750,000 are starting to pick up after being frozen at a very low level last year:
For most of last year, first time homebuyers were driving sales and they were focused “almost exclusively” on foreclosed properties and other bargains priced under $250,000, according to Walter Moloney, economics spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. “Beginning in October for the first time we started seeing increases in other sales categories,” Mr. Maloney said. Sales of homes priced from $750,000 to $1 million jumped 40% in January from a year ago, yet accounted for only 1.3% of total sales. Over 70% of sales in January involved properties priced under $250,000. Sales in all price classes rose in January. “The trade-up market is now beginning to benefit,” Mr. Moloney said.
Interesting factoid from the Kansas City Star:
About 1 in 6 job hunters who went through a Kansas City-based career transition program had to move to another city to land a job last year.
That percentage (16%) comes from Right Management, which provides outplacement services to laid-off workers whose employers pay for the assistance.
That was the high end of relocation among the eight Midwest metro areas served by Right offices. Relocation percentages ranged from a low of 5 percent in Minneapolis to a high of 18 percent in Omaha.
“Relocation is a fact of life and a key part of the flexibility and complexity of today’s workforce,” said Denise Kruse, a Right vice president in Missouri.
Across the Midwest, 13 percent of 3,000 job hunters tracked by Right relocated to a different market last year. The national average was 15 percent.
Had the pleasure of attending Worldwide ERC’s National Relocation Conference last week in San Diego. While attendance was predictably lower than previous years, the crowd was remarkaby enthusiastic–not bad, I figured, for a group that’s likely ingested over 50 metric tons of Tagamet over the past few months. Every time I encountered a corporate person–at our booth, in a meeting or wandering through the hotel halls–I made it a point to ask them if they’re doing anything new to combat the current market challenges. Here are a couple of the comments I heard:
— The days of leaving relocating employees to their own devices when it comes to marketing their homes are over. Said one corporate relo professional based in NYC: “Even though the economy will rebound, I don’t think we’ll have as strong of a real estate/mortgage market as in years prior. The tools we’re building into our policy are meant to help our employees think realistically about the market and what they need to do to sell the home sooner rather than later. Based on the success we’ve had with it, I can’t imagine going back to a hands-off approach.”
— Pre-decision services are on the rise, used increasingly to help companies identify those candidates who can’t afford to relocate.
— There are still many companies that are resisting making changes to their programs or policies, concerned that when the economy rebounds and they have to reel things back in, it might be perceived as a take-away by their employees. “Our corporate culture doesn’t respond well to lots of deviations,” said one corporate rep I spoke with. “Our business units would only consider changing policy if the majority of employees required the assistance.”
Changes are happening quickly in the relocation industry, and I have to admit, sometimes it’s difficult to keep up. The real estate market has slowed down, it’s more difficult for employees to secure a mortgage, and employees, fearful of taking a loss on the sale of their homes, are increasingly reluctant to move. Companies are feeling the pressure to tighten their belts until the economy shows positive signs, but must still be competitive in light of future labor shortages.
These are a lot of forces to contend with, and it comes as no surprise that those of you responsible for relocation want to figure out the way to respond to these issues. Should you implement a loss on sale program? How do you handle negative equity? What IS a short sale? Of course, there’s the age-old question, What are other companies doing? Just an aside: What others are doing and what companies should be doing are two different things. Benchmark studies are near and dear to my heart, so you can be certain we’ll be addressing them in future entries.
This blog is here to discuss all of the questions related to relocation. I welcome your comments, questions, and perspective on various issues that are affecting your mobility. Please share your ideas and approaches to solving problems. My hope is to create an online dialogue that will provide immediate feedback and idea-sharing that can keep up with the changes in our industry.
As a member of WRRI’s Consulting Services group, I review more than 200 policies each year, develop industry whitepapers, research relocation and assignment best practices, develop policies that enhance global mobility and respond to requests from our clients that are among Fortune 500, Global 500 and Best Companies to Work For. With nearly 15 years of experience in various employee benefits industries, I’m looking forward to sharing my observations with you and developing an online dialogue about what interests you every day.
As Vice President of Consulting Services, Ellie is responsible for developing and implementing WRRI’s strategic marketing plans, guiding the creation of WRRI’s innovative educational and knowledge-sharing tools, and building the WRRI brand throughout the world. She also serves as a member of WRRI’s Management Committee.
Ellie has over 25 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies create effective workforce mobility programs and become global employers of choice. A widely-recognized authority on relocation industry trends and best practices, Ellie has written extensively on a wide range of relocation topics, including the effects of Sarbanes-Oxley on workforce mobility, intra-European relocation, supply-chain management, family issues, career advancement, relocation cost control, IRS and tax related issues, short-term assignments, the RFP process, policy creation and refinement, and the role of procurement in selecting relocation service providers.
Ellie’s articles have been published in Mobility and Inside Supply Management magazines, and she has served as a workforce mobility subject matter expert for articles in such publications as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Workforce, HR Executive and Forbes.
Ellie is an active member of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), and is among the elite group of relocation professionals to have earned the Senior Certified Relocation Professional (SCRP) credential — the relocation industry’s highest designation — from Worldwide ERC.
As WRRI’s Manager of Consulting Services, Jennifer strategizies with clients and prospects to create the most effective workforce mobility programs and policies. She spearheads major research projects and utilizes her first-hand knowledge of trends and industry Next Practices to advance policy and program development. She is also responsible for researching and writing comprehensive white papers and research reports.
She has over a decade of experience in the relocation and employee benefits industries, and held strategic roles at Watson Wyatt and Sun Life of Canada before joining WRRI. Jennifer has served as subject matter expert for relocation-themed stories in such publications as HR Magazine, Expatica and the Boston Business Journal, and has written on such topics as loss-on-sale strategies and new hire policies. She has also spoken on workforce mobility topics at several industry conferences and served as a member of Worldwide ERC’s MOBILITY magazine Editorial Advisory Committee.
Jennifer earned a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Massachusetts in 2000. She also holds the Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) and Global Mobility Specialist (GMS) designations, and is currently is a member of the New England Relocation Association (NERA).