Updated May 03, 2023

6 Steps for Creating a Business-Aligned Relocation Strategy

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Most global mobility leaders know creating a relocation strategy that aligns with the business is essential for success. The challenge is “how” to actually make this happen. 

While creating this type of document can feel daunting, it’s surprisingly straightforward. 

We’ll explain the importance of following an approach that is in sync with your organization. Then, we’ll share six simple steps for creating a relocation strategy that helps achieve important business goals. 


Why your employee relocation strategy should align with business goals

Whether you relocate people domestically, internationally or both, it’s important to remember workforce mobility doesn’t live in a silo. It’s part of a larger talent strategy.

Yet, surprisingly, 88% of companies fail to align their talent strategy with their business strategy, which puts them at a disadvantage.

A recent report shows companies that coordinate their talent and business strategies outperform others by 16%. These organizations also retain 30% more top performers and see 34% higher employee performance. For these reasons, understanding the business objectives behind your talent strategy is a prerequisite for creating an employee relocation strategy that aligns with corporate priorities. Otherwise, your mobility program won’t help meet specific organizational goals that propel the business forward.

Depending on your company’s objectives, your workforce mobility strategy may need to:

  • Address the skills shortage in your location
  • Relocate new hires or manage an intern program from a global talent pool
  • Support the opening of a new office in a new region
  • Launch a priority project that will require a specific talent
  • Provide international assignments to develop high-potential employees
  • Focus more intentionally on diversity and inclusion efforts
  • Meet other vital business requirements

The point is to ensure you prioritize the same initiatives as the business to achieve meaningful results.

How to create a business-aligned relocation strategy and plan in 6 steps

While there can be many reasons why mobility leaders don’t have a documented relocation strategy and plan, the most common are:

  1. Time: Day-to-day operations take priority, leaving no time to focus on strategic initiatives
  2. Methodology: It can be challenging to develop a strategy if there isn’t a pre-defined process or framework
  3. Understanding: Mobility leaders don’t always recognize the significant advantage of documenting their approach

That said, the absence of a strategy makes it hard to keep your team focused on the right initiatives. It also makes it nearly impossible to elevate mobility program visibility and prove its value to the organization. That’s why developing a relocation strategy and plan that satisfies both the business and mobile employees depends on six essential steps:

1. Conduct a business stakeholder analysis

Probably the most important component of a successful talent mobility strategy is stakeholder involvement and alignment. It’s crucial to identify the key leaders in your organization so you can understand what they value and take this into account. Considering their point of view will also increase buy-in and support to maximize your strategy’s success.

3-step stakeholder process

As you build and execute your relocation strategy, it’s important to collaborate and communicate with the right stakeholders. To do this, we recommend three specific steps:

Step 1 − Identify key stakeholders

Make a list of stakeholders in your organization that have a connection to your workforce mobility program. Human Resources leaders and Total Rewards colleagues are likely a natural fit. But also consider other not-so-obvious players who should be involved, like procurement, finance, risk and compliance, immigration and more.

When identifying stakeholders for strategy-building, ask yourself:

  • Who is affected by the talent mobility program?
  • Who has influence or power over the program?
  • Who has an interest in global mobility’s success or failure?
  • Who is dependent on you, and on whom are you dependent?

Step 2 − Understand how talent mobility impacts key areas of the business

Once you identify key stakeholders, it’s time to learn how talent mobility impacts different business areas.

Meet with business leaders individually and encourage them to share their perspective by asking questions like:

  • How are you affected by our workforce mobility program?
  • How does the program benefit you?
  • What potential concerns (real or perceived) do you have?
  • What role (if any) will you play in overall mobility initiatives?

By going through this process, you’ll uncover important details that will inform your relocation strategy. Plus, you’ll showcase your leadership skills in the process.

Step 3 – Prioritize the stakeholders’ level of engagement

Once you understand stakeholders’ priorities, you need to secure their continued participation and support through ongoing communications. The frequency and level of communication will depend on their role, project involvement and information needs.

2. Identify internal and external employee relocation drivers

Now that you know which stakeholders to involve, you need to articulate the reasons for moving employees. This will help clarify the focus of your global mobility strategy.

To do this, you’ll need to determine the internal and external employee relocation drivers. Then, use the information you’ve gathered from your stakeholder interviews to answer the following questions:

What are the internal forces that influence workplace mobility strategy success?

These are items within the company’s control. For example, if the business wants to retain top talent, creating an exceptional relocation experience may be a key success factor in continuing to engage employees through opportunities that allow them to grow their skills. It may also drive other needs like hiring relocation specialists with specific skills and personality traits to achieve this desired outcome.

What initiatives are underway or planned that would impact mobility?

These are items within the company’s control but may already have a budget or resources assigned to them. For example, perhaps the company is opening a new office in a remote location and needs experienced individuals to get it up and running. This might signal a need to handpick existing high-performing employees to do this work. It might also inspire a fresh look at your relocation policy to facilitate the succession plan to replace these leaders with others in the organization who are ready to advance.

What are the external drivers that could have an impact on the company and the mobility program?

These are items out of the business’s control, such as competitors, trends and current events. For example, perhaps a competitor is actively expanding their operations near your headquarters, making talent more scarce. This may prompt the need to cast a wider net for recruiting and require reexamining your relocation costs.

3. Define the purpose of your global mobility program

Once you know the business drivers that will direct your strategy, you can work towards defining mobility’s purpose. When the reasons for your global mobility program are clear, it makes it easy for everyone to understand why it exists. This clarity also inspires non-mobility leaders to support its success.

To create a shared understanding of your program’s objective, meet with stakeholders to answer questions like:

  • How do you define the purpose of our global mobility program?
  • What value does mobility deliver to the company?
  • Is our current program tactical or strategic?
  • What is the current focus of our workforce mobility team? What should it be?
  • What’s missing from our mobility program? (e.g. Should employee experience be a focus?)
  • Should we refine or change mobility’s purpose?  If so, what does it need to be?

Once you gather this information, create an overarching summary that captures the “why” behind your mobility program. Then, make sure to post it somewhere visible so that key stakeholders can readily recall and reference the agreed-upon mission.

4. Determine how to measure enterprise mobility strategy success

To assess if your mobility strategy is achieving its goals, it’s essential to identify success criteria. Think about what to measure, why these metrics are important and how to gather this information. Tracking and measuring performance will provide the data required to report progress. It will also provide the rationale for pivoting if you need to change directions.

When selecting your workforce mobility KPIs, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What metrics do you need to make decisions about your mobility program?
  • What metrics do your stakeholders value?  What should they care about?
  • How do you measure global mobility program success today? What kinds of metrics do you use?
  • How do you want to measure program success in the future? What do you want to measure?

Sample Global Mobility Metrics

While it may be tempting to measure everything, it’s best to keep this process simple. Focus on only the metrics that align with your strategy and your overall business goals. Otherwise, it will be too easy to spend time reporting data that leaders don’t care about or don’t help you make decisions.

Once you identify your key metrics, you should also establish a baseline measurement for each. This will allow you to track results over time to show progress.

5. Develop a relocation plan that maps to your strategy

Once you have all the background information, you’ll need to document your strategy. Then, develop a clearly defined action plan, so your team can execute successfully.

Specifically, your plan should outline:

  • Immediate goals – What do you plan to focus on in the next few weeks
  • Short-term goals – What do you plan to accomplish each quarter/this year
  • Long-term goals and vision for success – What do you plan to achieve within the next few years

Your plan should also detail:

  • Specific tasks and activities your team needs to complete
  • Timelines, milestones and due dates
  • Individuals responsible for each task/activity

This transparency will ensure everyone understands the work they need to complete and remains focused on the same outcome. It will also help you manage expectations with key stakeholders as you forge ahead.

6. Maintain relocation strategy business alignment

Once you have a solid relocation strategy and plan in place, keep it in a shared location that you or others can update regularly to keep your team on track and maintain ongoing business alignment.

Specifically, to keep your strategy current, we recommend following these four steps:

  1. Continue to meet with key stakeholders to stay up to date on business activities and priorities that will impact your program
  2. Collect and communicate KPIs to track, measure and demonstrate success
  3. Conduct regular assessments to determine what’s working or not working
  4. Make incremental changes and adjustments as required

By using your business-aligned mobility strategy as your guide, you’ll be able to showcase ongoing progress. You’ll also be able to connect your activities to larger corporate objectives and demonstrate the rationale for making decisions.

But probably the most significant impact will be the transformation you’ll achieve. Over time, you’ll elevate your leadership position in the organization and eliminate any previous misperceptions that undervalue mobility’s contributions to the business.

Build a relocation strategy in an afternoon

Ready to create your own business-focused mobility strategy? Sign up for our Graebel Mobility PathBuilder® Strategy workshop. We’ll go through a step-by-step process to create a plan that aligns with your corporate vision.