July 22, 2022

Here’s how to successfully manage the relocation process during peak season and improve the employee experience

Traditionally, the global mobility industry considered summer to be the busiest time of year for relocations and assignment start dates, but the legacy of Covid and war in Europe have created an imbalance in supply and demand in many areas which may well impact the experience of relocating employees into the Fall of 2022.

Our Sterling Lexicon teams are prepared with agile, flexible solutions to support your program. We’ve identified the key sticking points in the relocation process and offer our guidance on how to partner with your RMC to facilitate a smooth transition for your employees.


International shipping challenges have not abated

Sterling Lexicon continues to see delays to shipments being transported by ocean freight, however both road and air transportation are not without their challenges. Port congestion remains an issue in both U.S. and European ports, while driver and crew shortages may affect packing and delivery.

Sterling Lexicon offers the following suggestions:

    • Initiate as far in advance as possible – this will allow movers to accommodate preferred packing dates.
    • Give your Account Manager a heads-up of potential VIP or large moves requiring multiple days for packing.
    • Help manage expectations with your employees that alternative dates will be provided if their preferred dates are not available for packing or delivery.
    • Consider pre-approving extensions for temporary accommodation or rental furniture; your Account Manager can assist with process design, tracking cost and reporting.
    • Consider approval for larger air shipments or increased excess baggage as there is a chance that your employee might be without the majority of their possessions for an extended period.
    • If your policy provides a relocation or disruption allowance, reinforce how your employee may use this allowance while the shipment is in transit.

Shortage of serviced temporary accommodation

During the pandemic, many serviced accommodation operators reduced inventory or leased their properties for other uses. The post pandemic resurgence of business travel and relocation has resulted in demand significantly outweighing supply. An influx of refugees brought about by the conflict in Ukraine has further exacerbated the supply and demand imbalance in Europe. As a result, relocating employees are encountering a lack of choice in their preferred location due to availability; meanwhile, global mobility is seeing a need to revise budgets due to the rapid increase in rates.

Sterling Lexicon offers the following suggestions:

    • Initiate as far in advance as possible – this will allow a higher likelihood that accommodation will be available.
    • Be prepared to approve accommodations quickly as options presented are often snapped up within a matter of hours.
    • Be aware that more than one search may be required which may involve an additional cost.
    • Work with your Account Manger to review your temporary accommodation budgets in your key locations to make sure they are still adequate.
    • Discuss any significant volume going into a particular location with your Account Manager so that a market assessment can be undertaken, and relevant recommendations presented.

Shortage of rental properties and rising rents

A result of changing work strategies allowing Work from Home or Work from Anywhere, many residents left cities for other locations, creating excess supply and sending rents plummeting. As pandemic restrictions are lifted and companies require employees to be in the office for at least part of the week, demand in cities is beginning to outweigh supply, causing rents to rise steeply.

Sterling Lexicon offers the following suggestions:

    • Provide a home search service via your RMC – especially for permanent transfers, international new hires, early-career and low-budget moves. As a matter of duty of care, this relatively low-cost service will ensure that your employee doesn’t work with a disreputable agent.
    • Initiate as far in advance as possible – this will allow us to accommodate preferred home finding dates.
    • Consider providing your relocating employees with an orientation service so they can see the type of housing available in the destination to help make smarter decisions about shipping household goods.
    • Consider reviewing your policy benefits for those employees paying for their own housing by providing some financial support for deposits and/or real estate agent fees.
    • Regularly review housing allowances with your data provider or RMC to ensure they reflect current market conditions.
    • Consider pre-approving extensions for temporary accommodations in tight markets where offers on rental properties may face competition.
    • Be aware that additional home search support may be requested by your employees in tight markets.
    • Talk with your RMC on a regular basis to evaluate the challenges relocating employees face and agree on the actions that will be taken.

Sterling Lexicon’s clients and assignees can access a wealth of information on cities across the globe through the World Trade Resource portal which includes helpful guidance on rental practices and prevailing rental prices. Ask your Sterling Lexicon Account Manager if you don’t currently have access.

Sterling Lexicon believes setting the appropriate expectations with your transferring employees with respect to the shipment of household goods, securing temporary and permanent accomodations, is a critical step in managing peak season issues they may face when moving across the country or accross the world.


Stuart Jackson

Stuart Jackson

As Account Director at Sterling Lexicon, Stuart focuses on working with clients to optimize their global mobility solutions. Stuart has worked in global mobility for 19 years. His broad experience of working with different program sizes across a variety of industry sectors helps to bring success to clients' programs and wider business strategies. If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article or learn more about Sterling Lexicon, please do not hesitate to contact Stuart Jackson at stuart.jackson@sterlinglexicon.com.

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