Most professionals in the modern workforce can expect to choose or be forced to move for a career opportunity at least once in their professional lives. Booming markets and rare niche opportunities elsewhere can provide positive inducements to relocate. On the other hand, outsourcing, de-industrialization, flight of local investment and or over-pricing oneself in the locale can make finding jobs at home difficult.
Clearly, globalization and porous national borders have made job loss, e.g., through outsourcing, more likely. Yet, the same globalization has made global mobility in pursuit of replacement opportunities also more likely. When global income equilibrium has not been reached, talent will follow the income trail, especially during a severe recession in one region accompanied by relative boom-times or higher wages and salaries in another-as illustrated by the recruitment of Western staff by Chinese companies after the 2008 recession began.
However, recently reported trends suggest that expat executive positions in China may be both harder to come by and less attractive, e.g., because of competition from Western-trained repatriating Chinese and because of new mandatory salary deductions.
Relocation for or by a job has been a common practice for both employers and job-seekers, but in slumping economies and with large surpluses of available workers, this practice has been significantly curtailed by employers, although increasingly attractive to desperate or adventurous job-seekers.
One reason for the sharp decrease in relocation packages that employers offer to both employees and to job-seekers is huge surplus of workers available, evidenced in high unemployment rates that are driven up by weak consumer demand and by the practice of outsourcing, which can be done globally for many jobs just as easily as locally.
For the person who is trying to attain a position with a company, relocation can make a good deal of sense, especially when jobs are hard to find. To an employer, a relocation package for the hire of a new employee increasingly makes less sense from a financial standpoint, since a high unemployment rate is likely to indicate the presence of available local talent. However, if the relocation package is for a current employee who is considered talent worth keeping, then the relocation can be a valuable investment in the talent management and retention strategy of the company. Such relocation within a company (as opposed to relocation to a company) can be a marker for an agile, globalized company and an equally agile, globalized employee.
Relocation, of course, includes, but is not limited to finding a new home-even a new house. For that purpose, following a property relocation checklist is a wise idea, which begins with having a clear idea of how much help the parent company will provide for that purpose, including scouting and short-listing housing prospects for the new or transferred employee.
The real estate implications of relocation in a recessionary environment now loom larger than ever, as persuading employees to sell their homes in a depressed housing market in order to relocate has become a challenge for companies looking to transfer staff.
Other considerations include tax and moving cost liabilities associated with relocation, e.g., taxable and non-taxable moving-related benefits provided by the company or gained by the sale of property.
Relocating to a new culture can be as much, if not more, of a challenge as relocating to an unfamiliar home. Important issues ranging from laws governing expatriate property ownership to medical care eligibility and food safety need to be addressed prior to and after a move.
A relocation package can include any number of elements, depending on the distance of the move, cultural considerations if the move is overseas, the family status of the employee, and other important factors. An investment in a relocation package should not be half-hearted. If the company is willing to invest capital in the retention of its employees, creating a bad situation for them through a poorly executed relocation can backfire and end up being wasted money and lost or alienated staff.
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