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Why keep an eye on corporate mobility research publications? Because industry trends can reveal new business directions or service enhancement strategies. Findings don’t apply to all local markets but awareness of general trends, along with local activity/assignee patterns, can help RDs develop highly pertinent service options.

Relocation professionals are familiar with Worldwide ERC (WERC) and its publications, but other informative mobility research offers meaningful insights, too. Here are some leading resources and current trends that may be relevant to your business strategies.

Steady Corporate Activity
Three surveys anticipate continued domestic and global inbound activity levels. Per WERC’s 2016 U.S. Transfer Activity, Policy & Cost Survey, over 60 percent of corporate participants expect current employee transfer activity to remain stable or increase. Over 70 percent expect new hire activity to remain stable or increase.

Respondents of two global surveys concur that corporate relocation transfer and assignment activity will likely remain stable or improve near-term:

  • Atlas Van Lines’ 50th Annual Corporate Relocation Survey (2017): 36 percent expect improved employee transfer volume and 42 percent expect the same as last year.
  • Brookfield Global Mobility Trends Survey 2016 (BGRS): 36 percent expect increases in assignment growth in all regions and 39 percent expect it to remain steady the next two years.

U.S. Top Global Destination
Favored positioning increases U.S-inbound activity and potential assignment types/durations (e.g., short-term, long-term, commuters, permanent moves, etc.). In addition to steady global activity, the two surveys also cite U.S. as the top spot for global assignees:

  • Atlas’s survey again finds the U.S. most desired for inter-regional expat transfers over the last few years and it “…remains markedly higher for a third year (34 percent vs.18 percent in 2013).”
  • BGRS’ survey similarly reports the U.S. is the leading destination for all industries combined.

Millennials Want U.S. Assignments
To attract and retain millennials employers may begin incorporating global experiences into early-career leadership development and rotational programs:

  • PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) 2010 global workforce study, Talent Mobility 2020 and Beyond, found that “millennials have a strong appetite for working abroad” and 71 percent of respondents said “…they wanted and expected an overseas assignment during their career.” Millennial workers also report the U.S. is the most desired destination assignment.
  • Another BGRS survey, “Millennials and the Future of International Assignment Programs,” found that one in 10 international assignees are millennials. You might guess these are mostly within the tech sector, but responses were split evenly across all industries. 

Renter Percentages Remain High 
Besides global inbounds, other domestic renter-inclined populations including millennials and empty-nest boomers continue to contribute to renter proportions. Dynamics could again favor domestic homeowners, but surveys indicate strong and ongoing renter presence:

  • Runzheimer’s 2016 Workforce Mobility Benchmark Report found 61 percent of relocations are renters and 39 percent are homeowners, adding “many experts expected homeowner relocations to return to previously high levels; however, our data suggests that the trend is in a holding pattern for now.”
  • WERC’s research however found a slight uptick in homeowner relocations from previous surveys. It reports that 54 percent of current employee transfers are homeowners, but adds that 71 percent of new hires are renters.

Real Estate Lump Sums
Real estate-related lump sums may allow homeowners to optimize “sale-ability” (e.g., staging, home repairs/improvements and other market preparations). Renter lump sums may permit extended destination services or finders’ fees. Real estate-specific lump sums are not too common, but may be gaining some popularity as a flexible policy feature:

  • According to Atlas’ survey nearly twice the number of firms provided lump sums to “cover real estate assistance or rental transactions than did on average from 2011-2014.” The typical lump sum range for real estate assistance/transactions: $5,000-$10,000, although 29 percent indicated $10,000 or more. The typical lump sum range for rental assistance/transactions: $1,000-$2,500.

For RDs, these findings support ongoing and potential new business steams. Steady transfer levels, millennial global assignment interest and U.S. destination popularity bode well for corporate activity; move type diversity may encourage corporate program flexibility and opportunities for locally customized services.

Peg Guinta, CRP, is Projects Director for RIS Consulting Group. For questions, please email peg@rismedia.com.

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