Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In recent years, a significant number of people have uprooted their professional lives for their careers. According to 2021 research by Move.org, more than seven million Americans relocated for job reasons. Although this number represented a decrease from prior years, the trend is still an important ongoing phenomenon.
When it comes to relocation, research shows that employees are usually most reluctant to move because of a higher cost of living in a new locale. Moreover, on average, employees have 30 days until they begin their job in a new place. This quick turnaround can make a move particularly expensive. Offering a relocation package for moves of more than 50 miles helps ease the transition by providing anything from financial assistance to temporary housing.
Here are eight essentials a company should include in their relocation package.
1. Home sale or lease-break
According to a survey by mobility knowledge nonprofit Worldwide ERC, the biggest expense for relocation is often the loss on the sale of a home. With little time to find a buyer, and even less time to buy a new residence, employees often settle for selling their property at a loss or taking a financial hit when breaking a lease.
Some companies cover the difference from the initial purchase or help market the home with a competitive real estate agent. This process is going to be more expensive for homeowners, although renters might also need help with a lease-breaking penalty.
The sale of a home or early termination of a lease can determine how much money an employee has to finance the move. Company assistance in this case can make or break the employee’s decision to actually relocate.
2. Moving expenses
Uprooting your entire life in 30 days would be an overwhelming prospect for anyone. Packing up belongings and moving them to a new city is daunting and expensive. Relocation assistance supports an employee by helping allay those expenses. Additionally, high-quality insurance for the move protects your employee from unforeseen losses and is essential for a less stressful relocation.
3. Transportation costs
Traveling from one place to another can be expensive, whether it be by car or plane. In addition to the actual move, the employee (possibly with their family) will need to visit the new location at least once before the move for house-hunting and getting familiar with the new city. Relocation packages often include some type of transportation coverage for two or three trips.
Finding a new home can be the most daunting aspect of a move. With an employee facing a possible loss from selling a house quickly or breaking a lease, companies spend a lot to support their employees in housing-related costs. In fact, the average cost of home assistance in relocation packages was almost $40,000 in 2015, according to Worldwide ERC.
Employees might require temporary housing if they are unable to find a suitable home in time for the move. Buying a new home is always expensive, and it might make more sense to help your employee with rental assistance if they are likely to move again or already live in rented housing.
5. Storage fees
If you are planning on additional relocations for an employee, it might make more sense to keep a portion of their belongings in storage instead of moving them. Moreover, short- or long-term storage might be required if an employee relocates to a smaller home. Helping with storage fees can alleviate some of the financial burden of relocating for these workers.
6. Tax implications
An unexpected obstacle for many relocating employees are the tax implications of relocation benefits. A relocation lump sum refers to the money an employer provides an employee to help cover the cost of relocation. Relocation lump sums are taxed and classified as additional income on top of salary at the employee’s regular income tax rate.
For example, if an employee has a regular tax rate of 25%, a lump sum benefit of $10,000 could be taxed $2,500. This can be an unexpected burden that the employee must pay. Many companies will address this issue by increasing their initial lump sum for tax purposes.
7. Miscellaneous expenses
There are a range of expenses that will cost your employee while relocating. Whether it be unused vacation days, decreased spousal income due to the move, or packing services, it is always a good idea to ask your employee what costs they expect and what they predict will be some of their biggest burdens. Then help your employee meet those expenses.
8. Unexpected costs/reimbursement
Some companies refuse to increase the relocation lump sum after it has been agreed upon. This can raise issues for your workers if new costs arise, such as paying to fix or replace belongings that were damaged in the move. Relocation, especially under a deadline, will almost certainly bring unexpected costs with it. This and the fact that lump sums often arrive after the move, in the form of reimbursement, can easily deter an employee from relocation. Reimbursement requires an employee to pay all upfront costs out of pocket. Both unexpected costs and the reimbursement process should be considered in putting together your company’s relocation package.
If your company is actively preparing to relocate employees, a strong relocation package is integral to the process. Adequate relocation assistance can be the factor that persuades your team members to make a move while also making your business more competitive. Relocation assistance will give your workers the support they need while also making higher degrees of success possible for your company.