Job Relocation – Benefits and Problems

Mr.S has been working from a centrally located office in Mumbai for the last three years. The location is central and his local train time all chartered out. Added to that is the familiarity with the people and his colleagues. To simply put it, he is used to the routine like most employees in his category. Now consider this scenario: S is asked by his boss one day that he would have to henceforth work from another office located at some other place in the same city. Befuddled, from a central place to some remote location, anyone can understand S’s predicament. This relocation definitely displaces him from the familiar zone and one can expect the normal reaction of annoyance, boredom and dissatisfaction. But when a change like this comes about on a fellow like him he can do very little but adapt.

Office environments are being subjected to rapid and continuous change and the resulting effect is in increased levels of employee relocation. While some of them might readily accept, most reactions are not so positive. A study conducted by Young Lee, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, finds the satisfaction with the physical workplace was positively associated with job satisfaction. The physical environmental quality affects job perception, attitudes, and job satisfaction.

An employee can either be relocated within the city or it can be inter-city. The relocation may either be temporary or permanent. The work days can either be divided monthly, for example 15 days at a certain location and the other 15 somewhere else. The relocating can also be from a centrally located corporate office to a far away factory unit. Whatever the type of relocation, management is bound to face certain resistance. But when the decisions come from the top, employees can do very little but bite their frustration. And more than giving into personal emotions, it calls employees to be more professional.

Employees who have been relocated and working from the new location say there are no apparent negatives, but believe that it may take a while to get comfortable with new settlement. The management has to understand this initial trepidation and help encourage employees to concentrate on their core duties.

Most companies offer relocation allowance. Product companies offer better allowance than say a service company. Bachelors usually don’t mind being located but might show some hitch if it’s locating from a big city to a smaller one. One senior software engineer readily accepted the relocation from Bangalore to Delhi because the company gave him an offer, he couldn’t refuse. He saw a better career and fabulous onsite opportunity.

Do employees take easily to the relocation option? In a study conducted by Harris, Interactive, USA, it was found that ’59 percent of employees say they would be willing to relocate to another city for a new job and 44 percent say they will be willing to relocate to another state, province or region for a new job. Lack of opportunities is the major reason that people perceive location to tier 2 or 3 cities a hassle.

Employees don’t readily agree, and a good number of them eventually quit. Employees moving involuntarily had lower perceptions of support and higher intentions to quit than voluntary relocation.

Job relocation can be a celebration for some but definitely not where both the partners are working. For families with dual income, this can be a rather big dilemma. Both partners are busy climbing their respective corporate ladders. Increasingly many employees turn down transfers and promotions if their employer cannot ensure a comparable employment opportunity for their spouse. Most employees place more emphasis on family concerns in relocation.

However, extensive planning is required by the employer and the employee to make work-from-new-location a win-win situation. Strategies need to be in place to manage uncertainty among employees.

Organizations should adopt methods that allow team members in different locations to discuss problems, sort out issues and even go through a training program simultaneously. This can help minimize isolation that is felt by employees in the initial stages and address the many issues that may crop up. Encouragement, supportive work culture, and a co-operating team are as critical.

The employee needs to know the reason in relation to his career graph and the impending growth potential. Professional counseling also benefits the employee and makes him adjust better.