FYI: Relocation

Sunday, October 2, 2011
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Relo for New Jobs

The percentage of unemployed managers and executives relocating for new positions jumped to its highest level in nearly two years. On average, 9.4 percent of job seekers finding employment relocated for their new positions. That's up from an average relocation rate of 7.6 percent during the same period a year ago, according to the latest Challenger Job Market Index, a quarterly survey by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The increase possibly shows a willingness by job seekers to take a loss on the sale of their home. Similarly, the increase may indicate a willingness by employers to help the newly hired relocatee.

"The 9.4 percent relocation rate in the first half of 2011 is still low by historical standards," says John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago. "But the increase does indicate that job seekers are finally beginning to loosen the stakes that have kept them tethered to a specific region."

Most Expensive Expat City is ... Luanda?

The results of Mercer's Worldwide Cost of Living 2011 survey are in, and the most expensive city for expats was not New York, Moscow or London. For the second year in a row Luanda, Angola, took the top spot, followed by Tokyo, then N'Djamena in Chad. Moscow follows in fourth position with Geneva rounding out the top five.

New entries in the top 10 list of the costliest cities in the world are Singapore (8), up from the 11th position, and Sao Paolo, Brazil (10), which has jumped 11 places since the 2010 ranking. Karachi, Pakistan (214) is ranked as the world's least expensive city, and the survey found that Luanda is more than three times as costly as Karachi. Recent world events, including natural disasters and political upheavals, have impacted the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services and volatility in accommodation prices.

Down five places from last year, New York (32) is the most expensive city in the United States, followed by Los Angeles (77), San Francisco (106) and Chicago and Washington, tied at 108.

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 entities in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

Companies Offer Greater Flexibility

After decades of a one-size-fits-all approach to international employee assignments, growing numbers of companies are layering flexibility into their policies in an effort to increase employee satisfaction and better manage tighter relocation program dollars, according to a new report from Brookfield Global Relocation Services.

A more diverse international-assignee population, a growing number of home or host countries for assignments and escalating pressure on mobility-program cost-containment has required companies to become more flexible. One-size-fits-all, standard relocation packages often result in frustrated assignees and services that go unused.

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"In the past, a single assignment policy was all a company often needed to fulfill long-term assignments that were typically offered to one type of assignee -- a senior executive from company headquarters," says Scott Sullivan, executive vice president of Woodridge, Ill.-based Brookfield Global Relocation Services. "Today, the topic among mobility managers has shifted to: 'Show me a flexible international assignment policy that works.' "

Talent Management the Focus of Domestic Moves

With the recession behind them for the most part, corporations are making fewer changes to their relocation policies and placing more focus on talent management, according to a new survey from Weichert Relocation Resources Inc. in Morris Plains, N.J.

Mobility and the Current Real Estate Market surveyed approximately 200 U.S.-based relocation and HR professionals responsible for more than 43,000 annual moves. It revealed a steep drop in the rate of policy change. Only 61 percent of companies made changes to their relocation policies so far in 2011, compared to 90 percent in 2010 and 92 percent in 2009.

"A slowly recovering economy, slightly improved employment picture and steadier housing markets have brought some much-needed stability to corporate relocation," says Ellie Sullivan, vice president of consulting with WRRI.

"As a result," she adds, "our survey shows that companies are spending less time reacting to economic conditions and more time refining candidate selection and assessment approaches to meet long-term cost-savings and talent-management goals."

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