Relocating Millennials: Challenges and Best Practices 02.14.2019 | Jennifer Connell

relocation services for millennials

The majority of early career employees determine within the first year of a new job if they’re going to stay long term — and the younger the hire, the more decisive they are. This puts relocation under the microscope, as a corporate move or assignment can sometimes be the first impression employees will have of their employer.

During our recent webinar, Nine Trends to Watch in 2019, we polled our 180+ corporate attendees to find out which demographic they found most challenging when it comes to relocation.

Millennials led the pack, cited by 37% of the audience (followed by Boomers, Gen X and Gen Z), confirming what I see in my day-to-day work with companies: that Millennials continue to change the way we think about mobilizing employees. It underscores the need for companies to understand — and respond to — what these employees need (and want).

Early Millennials (ages 22-28) want to be more mobile than their predecessors and look to their employers for meaningful experiences. However, they’re ready to pick up and leave if they don’t feel valued. They look at the portability of their careers as an advantage and are most likely to raise their hand for an assignment.

Meanwhile, older Millennials (ages 29-36) are looking to settle down, albeit later than previous generations. And while homeownership rates are increasing among this age group (research indicates that more than half of Millennials are homeowners), their approach to the process is different than past generations. They want information at their fingertips and to begin their home search as soon as an offer for a position is extended. Sometimes even earlier.

These employees aren’t just moving for a job, they’re moving for a lifestyle. So while home and apartment data is great, they also want to know about gyms, restaurants, night life, shopping and where other employees of similar age are living. And it does without saying that they want this info on an app on their phones, customized to their preferences.

When they’re ready to move, they want the process to be faster and easier. In fact, they’re challenging the status quo by reversing the order of the process. Saddled with college debt — more so than any previous generation — they often choose their mortgage provider before taking steps to cancel their lease or list their home.

One thing to remember: for all the challenges they present, we have to credit this generation for prompting several innovations to workforce mobility, including flexible benefits, alternative assignments, and technology that adapts to their lifestyle. What's more, they quite literally changed the landscape; escalating prices in metropolitan areas have pushed Millennials to buy and rent beyond city limits, driving increased urbanization in suburbs outside major cities.

So how can relocation managers be better equipped to manage this demographic? Here are a few suggestions based on my research and experience:

• Provide area information early on — during the candidate phase whenever possible — so they can make decisions.

• Don’t assume that all Millennials want to rent. make sure your policies are flexible to accommodate those who want to become homeowners.

• Younger Millennials want to travel and be mobile, and you can use this to your advantage. Look at volunteer moves and assignments as an opportunity to reinforce your culture with these employee and to maximize the likelihood of long-term retention.

• When discussing an upcoming assignment, be sure to make the connection between their work and the company’s larger goals.

• Provide opportunities through rotational assignments as a way to provide personal fulfillment and meaningful work that matters.

• Leverage technology as a tool, but remember that employees still need the resources and guidance of a Counselor. Millennials are into self-help tools; we get that. But moving can be a challenging (and sometimes traumatic) experience if not done “right.” Relying on an app for all major decisions is bound to result in a few costly mistakes that can impact their ability to settle into their new position.

Meeting the needs of this increasingly sizable demographic will keep your mobile workforce optimized and engaged, which will help grow your business, and ultimately benefit your Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, too (remember them?).

And in your spare time? You can start planning for Generation Z.

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Written by Jennifer Connell


Jennifer Connell, SCRP, SGMS-T, is Vice President of Weichert’s Advisory Services group. She has over 25 years of experience in the workforce mobility and employee benefits industries and is a recipient of Worldwide ERC’s Distinguished Service Award. She has spoken on workforce mobility topics at industry conferences throughout North America and written for mobility- and HR-themed blogs and magazines worldwide.

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