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Things to Consider When Planning Group Moves 04.1.2021 | Jennifer Connell

group moves

Group moves are often fueled by mergers and acquisitions. In the aftermath of the pandemic, they’re expected to accelerate as industries consolidate and smaller players realize they just can’t weather the storm.

Also, as work arrangements evolve, larger organizations will likely scale or shift office locations to better align with their need for space for employees.

Whatever the reason, group moves and group move policies are topics we’re seeing a lot more buzz around these days. And based on the conversations I’m having with clients and colleagues who are working on group moves, I’ve compiled a quick post of things that companies need to consider when contemplating one:

What is the intent of the group move?
Group moves occur for a number of reasons: expanding business in a new location, opening an operations facility and consolidating locations, to name a few. Understanding your organization’s goals and direction will help you develop a strategy for communicating it to your workforce.

Why is this important? If your organization is consolidating locations, this may be a surprise to employees who expected to have a long career in their current location. You may find significant reluctance to relocate among these employees and they’ll likely need additional education and incentives to accept a move that they didn’t see coming.

Where is the group move destination?
If your company is moving from a metropolitan area to a remote location or rural area, you may find reluctance from employees who have long enjoyed living in a bustling city with nightlife and access to public transportation. The package and services will likely be reliant on customized destination services that emphasize a different lifestyle along with the advantages it brings, such as open spaces and lower cost of living.

Have you identified the talent that you need in the new location?
In the planning process, your company should have identified specific talent needed to address the immediate needs of the business and facilitate a smooth transition–talent that wouldn’t be available to hire locally. You may need to consider additional premiums for certain talent or provide additional support to persuade them to take the move.

When is the group move?
The more time to plan, the better. If the timeframe is only a few months, the more assistance will be needed for employees to sell their homes, plan their moves, and find suitable housing in the new location. There are other timing factors to consider; for example, group moves that begin in late Spring or early Summer often require additional support for families that need to identify schools and have school-age children ready to start classes in the new community in September.

How many policies are needed for a group move?
The majority of group moves have one policy, perhaps two polices to address Homeowners and Renters. While a few companies have tiers, most strive for consistency around the benefits for group moves. Conducting orientations and other destination services in a group setting will help to create community among your employees, and using one set of benefits will minimize chatter that arises if employees compare offers (they will).

What are the most common benefits in a group move?
The benefits customized for a company’s group move depend on the factors described above, often with an emphasis on the destination area, including home finding trips, area tours, mortgage assistance and home purchase. However, the departure location requires professional coordination and management of suppliers who will expedite home selling, shipment of household goods and the myriad of family-related benefits.

What are some of the services that will expedite the move and support employees?
Weichert has long supported clients in the development of custom policies and strategies that inform, educate and engage employees early on. Some of these include:

  • Group orientation meetings/Q&A (on-site or virtual)
  • Pre-decision consultations with a Counselor
  • Group area tours
  • Enhanced home finding assistance with local brokers who are familiar with the company’s program
  • Custom policies, communication materials and area information. Videos are a great way to share success stories of other employees working in the area.

Finally, be on the lookout for silver linings and use the group move as a way to “trial run” permanent changes to your program. We recently helped a client implement a Discard & Donate program in their group move policy as a way for employees to simplify and expedite the shipment of household goods. It proved so successful that the client has since implemented this approach for all moves, continuing to see the benefits from a reduction in overall shipments and in employees feeling good about donating unwanted items!

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Written by Jennifer Connell

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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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