It's Time for Relocation to Be Part of Talent Acquisition
By Frank Patitucci, CEO, CoPilot by NuCompass
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Relocation, or employee mobility, is definitely an HR function. But it's often unclear where it should permanently belong within the HR ecosystem. Today, relocation tends to be an orphan function that can be found in benefits administration, HR shared services, talent acquisition, payroll or even expense management. In addition, relocation is usually a second or third responsibility for an HR professional in one of these areas.
In other words, there's no clear map for where employee relocation should fit within the evolving sphere of talent management. We make the case that new technology solutions are driving relocation firmly into the talent acquisition function.
Talent Acquisition Today
Experts define talent acquisition in a variety of ways. Typically, it includes employer branding, candidate sourcing, recruiting, interviewing and assessing, background checks, reference checks, offer processing, metrics and analytics, and onboarding. Seldom, if ever, does one find relocation on these lists.
Today, all of these areas are being disrupted by point solution technologies that are changing and improving the way each of them are performed. And, more important, talent acquisition suites are integrating these activities into much more efficient end-to-end solutions. But again, relocation is nowhere to be found.
Why Isn't Employee Relocation Part of Talent Acquisition?
There are at least three answers to this question. First, employee relocation cannot be reduced to a pure software solution, unlike many talent acquisition activities. Successfully relocating an employee requires that specific services be provided, such as moving the employee's household goods. Therefore, it's necessary for relocation technology to involve service providers.
Second, relocation is not provided to every employee. Typically, less than 3 percent of a workforce is involved in relocation in any one year. On the other hand, relocation is often critical to successfully recruiting and deploying a company's most important employees.
Third, relocation is a "specialty niche" that is most often assigned to an HR generalist. This could be due to the fact that many relocations involve existing employees rather than new employees.
Technology Changes Relocation Paradigm
All of these reasons are no longer valid in the face of new technologies that are changing the relocation paradigm. Historically, the relocation industry has been very slow to adopt new technologies that might accelerate integration with talent acquisition. The industry is dominated by relocation management firms that are owned by real estate franchises or household goods companies, neither of which are inclined to disrupt the status quo.
However, new technologies today are giving employers the information and tools that can help them make better relocation decisions in real time. They also provide employees with tools and resources to manage their own moves, on any device.
Cloud-based technology available today can help an employer make cost-effective relocation decisions quickly, in ways that were not possible just a short time ago. You can gather information about the relocation needs of the employee and turn that information into a realistic cost estimate. You can involve the hiring manager and appropriate decision-makers in reviewing and approving a relocation plan. And you can get the sign off from the employee before authorizing the move -- all within minutes and hours, rather than days or weeks.
Technology also makes it possible for the employee to use sophisticated tools to manage their relocation directly with pre-selected service suppliers. In effect, technology replaces the role of the traditional relocation consultant and gives the employee complete control over the process.
Given the speed at which hiring and employment decisions are made, it's crucial that relocation technologies are totally integrated into talent acquisition processes. In other words, if relocation is part of the hiring process, then a job offer should include a detailed relocation plan and budget. This is best accomplished when the relocation software is activated at the appropriate time in the hiring process, providing access to data that can be used to prepare and distribute the relocation plan.
Joining the Talent-Acquisition Team
For the last 30 years, there has been little change in the way relocation services have been provided. Today, new technology is disrupting the status quo, and relocation is becoming an important component of the talent acquisition process. Relocation technology will help create better talent acquisition outcomes, including cost control, faster onboarding and a better candidate experience.