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Amidst tougher competition for the best and brightest employees, 60 percent of companies say that relocation policy benefits are critical to recruiting talent. Yet an alarming majority of companies still pursue outdated workforce mobility practices that put them at risk of losing the very talent they’re investing in.

These were some of the key findings of the latest survey by Weichert Workforce Mobility Inc., a global leader in the deployment and management of mobile talent. Multidimensional Views on Workforce Mobility is Weichert’s ninth annual survey to identify the top relocation challenges and trends, with this year’s results based on the input of 170 North American corporate relocation managers.

Results show companies balancing the need to provide the benefits necessary to attract and retain top talent with an unrelenting pressure to control costs. Forty percent of companies expect their relocation volume to increase over the next 12 months, underscoring its importance to business growth, while reducing cost was the most commonly cited influencer of the changes companies make to their relocation programs. In fact, “controlling relocation spend” was the number one reason cited for the wider adoption of flexible relocation programs, which include temporary, rotational and commuter assignments, lump sums and extended business travel.

“When it comes to workforce mobility, the mantra is, ‘be flexible, but be cost-conscious, too,’” says Jennifer Connell, North American Practice Leader for Weichert’s Advisory Services group and architect of the survey.  “When managed right, flexible programs allow companies to be both, making relocation appealing to a wider range of employees and keeping talent more readily deployable as opportunities arise.”

Unfortunately, some companies’ efforts to balance flexibility and cost control miss the mark. Seventy percent of respondents says they provide lump sums to entry-level employees, a practice Connell finds ill-advised.

“This places responsibility for the move on the demographic that is often least experienced with managing their own funds, which ends up costing more in the long run while literally risking your future leaders,” says Connell. “It’s very telling that despite the widespread usage of lump sums, only 50 percent of companies thought they met the needs of their employees and only 33 percent thought lump sums helped drive their talent management strategy.”

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