Recently I had a meeting with a top executive of a great digital media company out of Seattle. During the conversation, I mentioned to him that I live in Venice Beach, California. Then he said to me "I lived in LA with my wife for just under a year in a part of town that didn't work for us." He continued "I love Venice. Had we originally moved to Venice, we would probably still be there." As the result of a bad relocation to the wrong LA neighborhood, he was miserable, his wife was miserable, and they ended moving back to Seattle.
“What a loss”, I thought to myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love Seattle, but this guy was obviously incredibly talented. He had helped grow several noteworthy companies, bringing two of them public, and due to a bad relocation, his company lost him in under a year. Replacing an executive of this caliber can cost a company not only valuable time but up to 400% of the person’s salary. At a base of $250,000.00, that’s one million dollars. So how did this all go so wrong?
There are 3 points of potential failure here.
1. Wrong location for life style. Newcomers to any city struggle with making decisions about where to live because they have not had the years it takes to pick up clues about culture, style, and amenities that any local would understand almost instinctively. For instance, in Los Angeles, if you are young and artistic with no kids, North Hollywood can feel like a death sentence. Conversely, a family with kids from the Midwest might struggle with the urban vibe of Silver Lake. Similar differences between neighborhoods exist in any major city. Those who take to Brooklyn easily might not like being in a suburban setting on Long Island.
Which brings us to the second point of failure:
2. Spouse. If the employee’s spouse is not happy, companies will be dealing with a potential time bomb. Every day when the employee arrives home from work, an unhappy spouse may eventually grow frustrated and push to move back to their former home city. This continuous pressure will affect the employee’s effectiveness at work and, like my friend from Seattle, it could result in losing the employee.
3. Family. Finding the right place for a family can be particularly challenging. Locating a part of the city that offers the right combination of affordable housing, space for kids, and good schools can be extremely challenging. If you do locate the neighborhood with these features, there is little chance that you will be able to get your children into the high performing school in that neighborhood. Most of the “good” schools will undoubtedly have waiting lists. Being able to find the right house in the right neighborhood that your employee can afford that happens to have a good school they can get their kids into can be all but impossible for a relocating employee to navigate.
This complexity could force top talent to decline an offer, or worse, churn out of the position. With so much of what your employees deal with outside of the office severely impacting their performance inside the office, and with the current competitive talent market, attracting and retaining top talent can be challenging.
By helping them achieve happiness in their new home you are not only doing the right thing for the employee, you are doing the right thing for your organization as a whole. Making sure the employee finds the right fit when they relocate is critical. As an organization, your company needs to do more to make sure the employee is properly relocated, in the right location, with sufficient attention to their lifestyle needs, or it could literally cost you millions.
At Relocity, we take care to make sure an employee is relocated to the right house in the right neighborhood, with all of their family’s critical concerns addressed. We consider every aspect of the employee’s lifestyle, their goals and their passions. Then, our Personal Hosts take the time to literally hold their hand throughout the arrival and settling in process, and even beyond. Relocity has found that employees we relocate this way are happier, more productive, and stick around longer.