What is a Relocation Specialist & Why Do You Need One?
If your organization relocates employees or plans to in the future, there’s good reason to enlist the help of a relocation specialist. But if you aren’t familiar with what these professionals do or how they can help, you might wonder why you even need one.
Here’s what you should know about relocation specialists to make the best decision for your business.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
Relocation specialists are expert consultants employed by relocation management companies (RMCs) to support employees and their families throughout the entire relocation process. They’re well-versed in relocation policies and practices and often specialize in specific types of relocations (e.g. domestic versus international). Ultimately, they’re responsible for ensuring every move goes as smoothly as possible.
A relocation specialist’s primary goal is to provide an exceptional end-to-end relocation experience for mobile employees and their families. This is critical considering that 76% of employees report their organization falls short of providing the relocation support they need.
Relocation management companies (RMCs) employ relocation specialists to manage employee transfers on behalf of various organizations. The consultants act as the mobile employee’s single point of contact from the beginning to the end of the move. They also deliver essential employee and family support to ensure the relocation is successful. Specifically, they alleviate excess work for the organization’s mobile employees, HR personnel, workforce mobility team and other staff members by coordinating all aspects of the relocation process, including:
Communicating policy information
Ensuring mobile employees understand their benefits, how to maximize them and the support they’ll receive as they prepare for a transfer.
Providing timely answers to questions
Acting as a single point of contact to help address any concerns.
Ensuring all tasks are completed accurately and on schedule.
Coordinating administration details
Working with the appropriate individuals to manage compensation, expenses, visa renewals, tax reporting, policy compliance, etc.
Handling home sale or lease cancellations
Connecting with real estate agents to sell the mobile employee’s home or landlords to end a rental agreement.
Managing the packing and shipping of household goods
Working with the proper providers to coordinate all aspects of the physical move.
Navigating visa and immigration requirements
Ensuring mobile employees and their families complete the required paperwork to obtain legal authorization to enter and work in the destination country.
Providing home-finding assistance
Connecting with the right service providers to search for temporary or long-term housing in the destination.
Finding the right school or childcare provider
Working with local experts who can recommend education and/or care options that meet the family’s needs.
Providing destination support
Connecting with service providers to help transferees and their families become better acquainted with their new city, including coordinating area tours, language training, banking and insurance needs, automobile leasing, etc. Helping spouses connect with their new community through volunteer opportunities, special interest groups or social events with other expatriates when available.
Managing repatriation logistics
Coordinating home closeouts, packing and shipping goods home, connecting mobile employees with real estate professionals to find a new residence in the return location, etc.
Based on the responsibilities listed above, it’s clear a relocation consultant offers a lot of support to your workforce mobility team. Since 47% of employees say employers could improve the relocation process with better support staff, it’s also clear hiring a relocation management company that employs certified relocation consultants would be a great way to improve your employees’ experience.
But if you’re still not clear on the benefits, here are six ways these professionals can help your organization achieve your relocation program goals:
1. Optimizes employee relocation success
One of the biggest challenges organizations face is a lack of dedicated, in-house workforce mobility resources. When internal mobility professionals can only spend part of the workday on relocation initiatives, it is impossible to focus on all the details. This lack of time means the likelihood of delivering a good, let alone an exceptional, employee relocation experience is low. Since relocating employees is such a huge investment, it’s critical each move is successful. Otherwise, your company will waste thousands in relocation costs it will never recover.
Once you decide to partner with a relocation management company, its relocation consultants are key to ensuring the relocation experience is a positive one. In fact, our research shows they’re one of the most important elements of success.
Since relocation consultants are dedicated to the transferee experience, they can give it their full attention. These experts stay on top of tasks and timelines at every step of the relocation process so nothing is missed. Additionally, they provide a single point of contact for your transferees so they always have someone to reach out to with any questions or concerns.
Great relocation consultants also customize the care they provide to meet the specific needs and priorities of employees and their families. When employees feel happier, they’re more likely to want to do their best work and stay longer at your organization. This contentment helps ensure your relocation investment pays off long term.
2. Anticipates and avoid conflicts
As mobile employees and their families go through the relocation process, sometimes they want things that aren’t covered in their policy. Relocation consultants are experts in emotional intelligence. They can sense concerns and know how to communicate
information clearly and calmly to resolve issues before they become bigger problems.
Experienced employee relocation professionals also know when exceptions aren’t warranted or needed. Since they’re familiar with all kinds of situations and requests, they know when something doesn’t make sense. This knowledge allows them to represent your interests as an employer while also meeting the needs of your mobile employees.
3. Minimizes the impact of relocation problems
Corporate relocations have so many moving parts that challenges are bound to arise, no matter how robust the plan. But the approach to these challenges can significantly impact whether or not the transfer is a success.
An experienced relocation specialist can spot when things start to go sideways and get everything back on track. For example, if a family member hears some false information about the destination country, they may no longer want to move. A relocation specialist can connect the family with the right service provider to get the facts they need to feel more comfortable. If a moving company damages an item during the shipping process, a relocation expert can assist with filing a claim. No matter what relocation problems arise, these professionals can contain them before they escalate.
4. Saves the workforce mobility manager time
Your workforce mobility managers already have more than enough work to do. And their time is better spent on relocation strategy than tactics.
By coordinating all the relocation details, answering transferees’ questions and navigating any challenges, relocation consultants save mobility managers a significant amount of time. An added benefit? The more success these relocation experts have with reducing escalations and increasing mobile employee satisfaction scores, the more workforce mobility managers shine in their organization.
5. Promotes employee productivity
When you’re relocating your employees, the last thing you want is for them to feel stressed or distracted. If employees have to handle all aspects of the relocation plus start a new position, they’re just not going to be very productive.
Relocation consultants help employees get to their location quickly, with less stress. They take the burden off your employees to figure out everything on their own and minimize the time employees need to spend thinking about the move. This assistance allows them to concentrate on other important things, like family and well-being, so they’re ready to transition into their new role.
6. Minimizes risk and ensures compliance
Policies contain so much information that it can be easy to overlook important details. The potential for error increases when someone doesn’t have the time to dedicate to the job.
Relocation specialists ensure transferees comply with the policy to prevent potential issues. If employees don’t use all their benefits at the proper time, consultants also keep track and can follow up accordingly. This smart, seasoned guidance ensures they balance the need for compliance with the importance of creating a positive employee relocation experience.
Additionally, relocation specialists provide information transferees may not even consider to help them avoid future problems. For example, they might advise employees to ask their insurance company about the best way to cover valuables so they don’t purchase an inadequate plan. They might also make sure employees aren’t locked into a lease longer than they need to be.
Finally, since industry regulations change quickly, partnering with relocation professionals who do this work day in and day out offers a considerable advantage. They help navigate various travel, tax compliance or visa and immigration requirements to mitigate any risks that will negatively impact the relocation process or potentially add unnecessary costs to the business.
Not all relocation professionals are equally comparable or skilled. But since they’re integral to relocation success, you need to ask the right questions if your organization plans to outsource relocation management. This due diligence will help ensure your mobile employees are in good hands when outsourcing relocation activities.
Specifically, there are four main questions you need to ask a relocation management company (RMC) about their relocation specialists:
1. What professional qualifications/designations do they have?
2. How much experience do they have?
We recommend relocation specialists have several years of experience before they manage relocations on their own. For executive VIP moves, we recommend an average of 5-7 years of experience.
3. What is their satisfaction (SAT) score?
We recommend relocation specialists maintain an average satisfaction rating of at least 95%.
4. Do they possess the right characteristics to be successful?
We recommend relocation specialists have the following characteristics to instantly fill your mobility program with skills, agility, expertise, personality and resources, essential for increasing your ability and capacity to deliver the best relocation experience for your employees.
Hiring an RMC that understands and values the role played by the individual relocation consultant means you add the following job skills to your program:
Relocation consultants must know the industry and want to grow their knowledge continually. Programs, policies and regulations change continually, so those who thrive in this role embrace opportunities to expand their expertise.
Organization and time-management
Relocation specialists need to coordinate a lot of moving tasks and often manage multiple relocations at a time. Organization is vital for understanding the status of everything at all times and which items to prioritize every single day. Since tasks are constantly in flux, relocation specialists also need to be comfortable with ambiguity and adapt nimbly to change. Additionally, they need to balance the importance of maintaining momentum with pacing tasks in a way that doesn’t overwhelm mobile employees and their families.
Attention to detail
It’s imperative that relocation consultants follow the policy and implement it correctly. Otherwise, this could cause several issues for your company and mobile employees during the relocation process.
Customer service and problem-solving
Workforce mobility is full of unexpected challenges. That’s why customer service is considered the most important skill relocation specialists need to possess. To excel in this role, relocation specialists must anticipate and address challenges before they emerge or before the transferee is even aware of them. Since no two moves are exactly the same, specialists also need to be creative about solving new relocation problems that arise.
Maintaining open, transparent communication throughout the relocation journey is critical for success. Relocation consultants need to be excellent communicators to ensure mobile employees and partners understand all parts of the relocation process. They also need to keep everyone informed using the channels they prefer, including email, phone and video calls, updates in the relocation software technology platform or a combination of these tools. When challenges arise, relocation consultants must navigate conflict, answer difficult questions and calmly respond to find mutually beneficial solutions.
Recommended Relocation Consultant Personality Traits
An RMC that employs professionals who put people first and bring these personality traits to their work gives you confidence that your mobile employees are in good hands:
Relocation consultants spend most of their time communicating, so it’s crucial they enjoy talking to people and are interested in their lives. Since they will often work with mobile employees and their families for several years, they also need to value building solid, trusting relationships. They become a huge part of the transferees’ life, so they need to care deeply about helping them through their relocation journey.
Calm under pressure
Relocating mobile employees across the globe can be stressful in itself. But because these individuals are starting new jobs, moving their families and sometimes leaving their forever homes, anxiety levels often run higher. Successful relocation specialists know how to stay calm under pressure and put employees and their families at ease.
Empathetic and patient
Relocation consultants have moved individuals many times before. But, in many cases, employees and their families are moving for the first time. Top relocation consultants listen, acknowledge and show genuine concern for each transferee’s unique situation. They demonstrate patience and reserve when they have to answer the same question over and over again. And they avoid overwhelming employees by providing information at the right time, instead of all at once.
Desire to go above and beyond
The best relocation specialists don’t just have employees’ best interests at heart, they show a lot of heart. They possess a genuine desire to help others, even if it’s not part of their job description. They’re also resourceful and inquisitive, always seeking to understand employees’ needs before offering the best care within the policy limits.
With so many people involved and so many activities happening in tandem, challenges will emerge. But relocation consultants who focus on the positive get the best results. When their optimism shines through their actions and words, this goes a long way to turning problems into solutions.
A relocation specialist’s cost is included in the services provided by a relocation management company (RMC). Because this role is critical in delivering an exceptional relocation experience for your employees, there is no additional fee to engage with an expert consultant, even if you offer a range of policies. That’s why the quality of the relocation specialist becomes a really important criterion for choosing the right RMC.
A qualified relocation specialist will positively impact your employees’ relocation experience, no matter if they have been granted a lump sum or VIP relocation. This is because these professionals’ services have a greater impact on the relocation experience than the policy itself. In fact, our relocation specialists have achieved the same satisfaction ratings from employees who receive a $100,000 USD relocation package versus those who only receive a small lump sum of $3,500 USD to cover relocation costs.
Additionally, there are many recommendations these professionals can make that aren’t necessarily covered in a relocation policy but increase relocation success. For example, they can recommend specific vendors for moving specialty items or explain international visa requirements. And that knowledge is priceless when it comes to reducing employee stress and making the relocation process easier for them.
The bigger question to ask is: What will it cost your organization if you don’t work with an RMC that employs the right kind of relocation specialists? Choosing an RMC that puts people first is an important first step. And it will go a long way to ensuring you make the most of your time, resources and budget on corporate relocations that are set up for success.
It takes the right partner to elevate the employee experience from good to exceptional. Our consultants go above and beyond to help engage, inspire, motivate and support your mobile employees.