An Even Deeper Look into Employee-Initiated Mobility 04.25.2024 | Gina Grover

The tried and trusted cycle of mobility is being turned on its head thanks to a rising demographic of skill-hungry move-makers and talent who are prioritizing their personal needs.

Touted as the “hand raisers”, this demographic tends to be dominated by young, ambitious talent tired of waiting for the right opportunity to come knocking at their office door. Instead, they seize the opportunity to carve out their own developmental opportunities.

But as the employee/employer dynamic has palpably shifted in recent years, so has the number of employee-requested relocations driven by personal reasons, such as an opportunity to follow a partner/spouse or experience a new part of the world,. Organizations have typically dealt with this type of move by supporting a straightforward transfer, offering a “lite” support model. Lately, however, in recognizing the talent management value of this employee cohort, organizations are rethinking their packages, with some opting to provide a la carte benefit packages dependent on personal circumstances that offer a higher level of customized support.

The bottom line is that we’re paying closer attention to the hand raisers, especially as the war for talent burns strong (because if your organization is not going to support them through a move, they’ll find an employer who will)! More clients have been asking us how other industry players are handling these requests and how to develop more formal processes for their company’s move initiators.

The need for more insight into this trend fueled our latest research project, a comprehensive survey into Employee-Initiated Moves that invited over 60 corporations to help uncover the best practices, challenges, and must-have policy components for a relocation program that effectively (and cost-consciously) meets the needs of this unique mobile demographic. We shared a few top takeaways from this research in our recent blog post, but we’ve got even more to reveal about what we (and our clients) have learned from this deep dive:

Prioritizing Balance

An unintended (but positive) outcome of the pandemic is that employees are shifting their priorities to seek a healthier work/life balance and asking their employers for support in achieving this balance. Our survey found that 75% of employees asked for transfers to be closer to family members, while 72% indicated that they were following their spouse/partner or family member.

Trending Across Tiers

The employees making these requests run across all job levels, with 50% of companies seeing this trend. The least represented employees requesting transfers are entry-level (3%) and senior-level (3%). This aligns with the assumption that employees feel more comfortable asking their company for relocation as they become more established in their careers. Additionally, senior-level employees may be content with where they are or have already been approached by the company with opportunities to relocate, so they don’t need to make the request on their own.

Formalization of Moves Remains Inconsistent

As this trend gains traction, companies can formalize the process of requesting a transfer and sync the benefits provided to those employees initiating the move. But based on our findings, just 37% of companies have a mobility policy specifically for employee-initiated moves, with 34% saying they handle each request on a case-by-case basis. A staggering 53% of respondents said each request was evaluated separately, and each request may receive different benefits. Red flag: this case-by-case evaluation can lead to inequity amongst employees and is administratively burdensome.

Top Benefits: Tax & Immigration

Not surprisingly, whether a relocation is at an employer’s or employee’s request, Tax Consultation and Immigration remain crucial elements for a successful international move. Accordingly, compliance benefits are by far the most common benefit provided to employees requesting a move overseas. When designing an employee-initiated move policy, it’s important to remember that tax and immigration support may be needed well beyond getting the employee to the new location.

As with so many things, effective communication is integral to achieving a high rate of success when it comes to employee-requested moves (and all moves, for that matter). This starts with ensuring that prior to structuring a policy for employee-led mobility, there is an open dialogue between mobility, HR, and talent management stakeholders to set parameters around if and how requests will be treated differently and whether or not there is a defined business need for the relocation.
Eager to keep exploring?

Plug into the full research report, Employee Initiated Moves and What Drives Them, here.

Then press play to tune into insight from the webinar hosted by Advisory Leader Gina Grover on how today’s leading employers are accommodating employee-initiated relocation within their mobility programs and talent management strategy. Featuring corporate guests LadyRose Kvitek from CSG and Birgit Maher of Cargill, this webinar explores other telling takeaways from our research and what the numbers tell us about the trajectory of this move type. Watch here.

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Written by Gina Grover

Drawing on over a decade of mobility and consulting experience, Gina works directly with Weichert’s clients across multiple industries to identify solutions through proven research and benchmarking. Gina is a Minnesota native (you betcha!) who woke up one day and decided to move to Florida with her family.


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