Include family in all relocation planning (Web Sight, Sept. 23, 2002)

Relocating an employee through transfer or promotion can be a lengthy and expensive process, but if the impact on the employee’s family isn’t considered it could turn into an unexpectedly short assignment. Here are some Web sites that address how the family is affected when moved from home and how that should shape your planning.

Family and the job abroad: A tumultuous transition

Brought to you by the people who find new jobs, covers what happens when the organization takes care of the company-related details but ignores the domestic impact. “Companies often pick up the tab for moving expenses and other major costs related to relocation, but they vary greatly in the assistance they provide when it comes to the personal issues such a move can create, from your spouse’s employment situation to the cultural dislocation inherent in working in an entirely new environment.” The article also offers some Web resources for relocation.

Children and relocation

Kids are usually the last to know about a big move and are affected the most. Anxiety about new schools, new friends and new surroundings need to be lessened. This site gives a guide, sorted in age groups — preschool, ages six to 12 and teenagers — on what type of stress each age group could be experiencing when they find out they are going somewhere new. It also has an article from a doctor about helping children cope with feeling like the “new kid” on the block.

Helping families adjust

This article from the Society for Human Resource Management covers what employers can do to prepare the family for a transfer. It gives five detailed tips on assisting them, as well as another article on choosing the right relocation service. “According to Anne Belkind, a former officer for Mothers English-Speaking Support Group in Paris, parents can help their children adjust to the new culture by timing the move and the assignment so that children begin school at the beginning of the year when all the kids are ‘new.’”

Avoid surprises when relocation looms

Written for relocating employees, this article explains some of the unpleasant surprises that could be waiting at the new destination. Regardless of whose fault it is, an unhappy relocated employee is not good for anyone. This Wall Street Journal piece looks at some real-life examples of what can go wrong in cross-continental transfers, and what HR can do to prevent problems from happening to employees.

Help employees feel at home

One of the ways to smooth a transition for both an employee and accompanying family is to use a relocation firm. Just like a benefits provider, you need to establish selection criteria to ensure you end up with the right provider for your organization. This in-depth article covers all the factors you need in determining the proper service provider. “Look for a firm that offers a scope of services and experience which meets your specific firm’s needs. Is the firm experienced in relocating employees into the metro areas you need? Certain parts of the country or world may present special challenges that only a firm with local knowledge of housing market or cultural issues can provide.”

Ignoring family is a no-no

This brief article presents findings from a survey done by Runzheimer International, Atlas Van Lines and the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, as well as a few tips on how to smooth the transition for employees and their families. To really have this hit home, all you have to do is read the last stat on the page “At least 70 per cent of relocation turndowns are due to family issues.” Need we say more?

Scott Stratten is a speaker, trainer and the creator of He can be reached at [email protected] or (905) 844-2818.

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