Nothing worth having comes easy. Especially not A-Player job candidates. Companies outbid each other in perks and beef up salary offers to secure the best and brightest applicants for themselves.
For those millions of workers who relocate for a job in a new city or country, one particular perk is unique in its effectiveness: Thoughtful relocation support. No other perk provides such great value for money: At very little incremental cost, a well designed relocation support scheme for new starters can have a tremendously positive impact on a candidate’s performance and well-being, right from the start.
Why is that? Well, moving house and changing jobs are among the biggest causes of stress for most people - so relocation for work is the double-whammy. If you provide relocation support that goes beyond money, and take the employee by the hand during their life-changing event, you will have given them far more than a company gym or free lunches - you will have nurtured trust and a sense of genuine gratitude.
And that can go very far and will convince some of the best job candidates to join you and not your competitor.
Here are the top five ways to roll out the red carpet for your relocating employees.
1. Provide resources to find accommodation
Send the candidate a self-made guide on how to find a place to live, including:
- A list of resources. Links to Rightmove and Zoopla (or your local equivalents), and good “settling in guides”. Mix mainstream resources with more quirky ones (e.g. guides in the candidate’s language will be appreciated (here’s one for Spaniards coming to London).
- Your individual recommendations. Share your personal thoughts with the candidate. You’ve lived in the region / city for a while, so your experiences matter and will be appreciated.
- For example, London is quite unique in how fast you have to be to agree to a lease. Most foreigners are quite surprised that a nice flat they saw on Monday is off the market on Tuesday. Mentioning this is useful.
BONUS TIP: Don’t assume any prior knowledge.
Did you know that Germans and Austrians don’t like to use estate agents for finding a rental property? Agents in these countries charge up to three full monthly rents to the tenant as a “finder’s fee”.
→ So don’t be shy to share the basics with the candidate. For example, that in the UK, it’s perfectly ok to work with (most) estate agents and that their fees are moderate.
You may say that they can find this type of information online, so why should you write it yourself. The reason to do it yourself is to build a relationship. You don’t have to create a new document for every new candidate, of course. But creating something unique once and sharing it with candidates can make a big difference in their decision-making process.
1A. BONUS - Offer temporary accommodation
You could also consider paying for a candidate’s short term accommodation. It can even be cheap - simply offer existing employees a small cash bonus per night if they offer a room to the relocating colleague - a much better deal than paying for a hotel room or AirBnB.
Finding a place is usually the most stressful part in the whole relocation process, so any creative low-cost way you can find to help ease Accommodation Anxiety will have a disproportionate impact.
2. Create checklists for administrative errands
Once the new employee arrives, there’s a lot for them to run around for. Council tax, utilities, registering with a GP, for foreigners it’s getting a national insurance number, getting a mobile phone contract - None of it is a big deal in and of itself, but overwhelm can come from
- Too many things at once
- Not having precise information on what to do
- Lack of priorities on what is or isn’t critical or time-sensitive
Chunk up a big daunting task (“the move”) into digestible pieces for the employee.
3. Create opportunities for new starters to socialise
Outside of the usual after-work drinks, consider supporting employee initiatives. One company we know picks up the beer and wine bill of employees who throw a private party at their home and invite colleagues.
But friendships can’t be forced, and you will impress the candidate if you offer ideas for socialising that are not related to colleagues.
Here, again, your best chance lies in authenticity. Providing generic suggestions for socialising that anyone can find online (Join a cooking class! Take up pottery! Salsa lessons!) aren’t very helpful. But examples of what real people did when they arrived in your city and needed to make new friends - that can be really interesting.
Why not send an email to all existing employees and ask for successful (and less successful but hilarious) making-friends-stories when they relocated. Make sure the successful ones include specific names of events, venues or courses that the candidate can look up. Compile the best submissions into a short document that you share with the candidate.
Lots of extra brownie points if you get employees’ permissions to use their first names and the department they work in. “The company” will suddenly turn into real people with real stories. What better ice breaker than “Oh, you’re Joanne from Accounting? The one who caught five tennis balls in Wimbledon?”
Another company we know does the “lunch challenge” - every new joiner has to have five 1-1 lunches per month with people outside of their immediate team.
4. Send a physical welcome pack
You can make quite an impression on the candidate if they receive a welcome pack from you before they start work. However, you don’t want to send them something to their home country and burden them with additional bulk. Instead, you can ask for their new physical address (if they have one before they move).
You could of course give it to them on their first day at work, but there is something magical in opening a gift on your own, on the cold rainy night when you arrive with three suitcases in an unfamiliar, empty apartment. It plants a vein of gold into next morning’s commute.
Make sure it’s not too bulky and fits into a letterbox so that the candidate doesn’t have to walk to the post office to pick it up the next day.
Some ideas on what to include:
- A friendly letter, welcoming them into their new city. Do include a helpful checklist if there’s anything to bring to the office on their first day, but otherwise, keep the welcome pack not work-related.
- A city guide. It doesn’t have to be an expensive Lonely Planet - anything that shows a few interesting spots to visit.
- A map. While it’s probably not that useful anymore to give a functional map in book form, a large fold-out map of the city is a nice first picture to hang on a blank wall.
- A cookie / biscuit / chocolate. Ideally something local.
- Anything else that can be packed flat and doesn’t spoil and that is remotely characteristic of your area: For example, no arrival in the UK should be welcomed without a bag of Twinings or PG Tips.
- A book of coupons for local businesses. These are not easy to come by as a set, and procuring them individually can be a lot of work. Unless you already have contacts to local businesses, it’s probably not worth the effort.
Of course, they will receive the welcome pack only after accepting the job offer and relocating, so this will not contribute towards convincing the candidate to join. But you can mention the arrival of this welcome pack in the summary email.
If you would like to see Benivo’s welcome pack to relocating employees, we’d be happy to send you one free of charge. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this article please.
5. Summarise it all in one neat email & provide a contact person
Ideally, you want all this goodness to reach the candidate before they make their decision whether they want to work with you or someone else. So it's important that news reach them during the deliberation process.
Send them a welcome email at the time they receive your job offer. In there, you highlight the entire relocation process and include as much of the above points so that they see "wow, those guys really want me if they do all these great things for me."
After covering all the points and linking to the relevant documents, mention that you will be helping the candidate throughout the process in case the material provided isn’t enough and that they can always contact you with relocation-specific questions.
And that’s it!
Some of these ideas are more work-intensive than others. But if you do even just a few of these things, you will create a lasting impression on the candidate and reassure them that your company makes every employee welcome.
And sometimes, this can make all the difference.
If you would like to find out how Benivo can help you with relocating junior employees, drop us a line at email@example.com.
A cup of Twinings is on us.