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Why Having A Talent Mobility Strategy Will Help You Win The War For Talent

The biggest challenge in executive search and talent acquisition today is the growing talent gap between the skills needed to compete today and the talent pool that is available. There are countless articles on the reasons why this is happening and what can be done about it.

One of the solutions that do not get discussed nearly enough is how a talent mobility strategy can increase your talent pool. Having an effective talent mobility strategy will be a key differentiator for firms because of the increased reluctance of U.S. workers being willing to relocate for work. 

In my professional career, I moved four times for a new opportunity. I found the change of location exciting. I was early in my career as young married with a supportive wife who had a profession (piano tuner) that she could move to any location. We eventually settled into our Atlanta home, stopped relocating, and raised our daughter. Pretty standard stuff.

The paradigm has shifted today. Here are some quick facts to put in in perspective:

  • Worker relocations have dropped 10% drop from since 2015.
  • Relocations have been steadily declining since 1999.
  • An estimated 10% of workers are currently open to relocation versus 20 – 35% who were relocating back in in the 1990’s (when I as mobile)
  • The reasons for the decline in relocation preference are many:
  • Family proximity
  • Caring for aging parents
  • Child care arrangements after a divorce
  • Cost of living in a new city (a big reason why hiring in Silicon Valley and Seattle is difficult)
  • Home value may be underwater
  • Working spouse whose career connect them to the current location
  • Inadequate relocation package (or non-existent package)

Despite all the reasons why workers will not relocate you still have key positions to fill. What can be done?

Put Together The Best Relocation Package That Your Company’s Can Afford.

No matter how you look at it – it takes money to make money. Relocation can be an expensive proposition. That is why, according to an Allied Van Lines study, 77% of large firms (over 5,000 employees) offer relocation while 44% of smaller firms (99 employees or less) offer it. The closest a firm can come to making the relocation cost-free for the employee, the more effective their talent attraction program for outside candidates will be.

Consider Creative Alternatives

There are creative options for onboarding out of market employees. One option that has been gaining popularity in Silicon Valley is communal living. A recent Politico article Tired of Dirty Dishes and ‘Hacker Houses,’ Millennials Revamp Communal Living covered the market expansion of HubHaus, one of several start-ups in Silicon Valley, which manages the entire house rental process and connects renters with co-living opportunities where they can affordably share space with several other people. Using a creative approach like this helps Silicon Valley employers continue to attract outside market talent who may be spooked by the perception of not being able to afford to live in their area.

Another different, but not necessarily super creative approach, is to allow employees to live in their current market and strategically commute in when it is necessary for them to be in the office in person. Consider the math on this. You hire a Sales Director from another market. Urbanbound calculates that the cost is somewhere between $70,000 to $100,000. Some of this money can be reallocated to allowing the employee to commute for focused periods of time in the office.

Offer A Traveling Spouse Relocation Package

A frequently overlooked factor in getting a candidate to accept an offer to relocate is how the move will impact their spouse/partner's career. We are no longer in the days of the male breadwinner and the at-home wife. Today, both careers need to be considered. Back in 2016, we wrote an article Outplacement Services Should Be Part Of A Effective Talent Mobility Strategy outlining the merits of how the chances of an employment offer being accepted significantly increase when an employer takes a holistic approach and shows how both household careers will be taken care of.

Stop Complaining About Not Finding Top Talent (if you do not offer any relocation)

I have to say it, but please do not complain about how hard it is to find great people if you do not have a budget for any relocation assistance. It is not 2010 anymore. Not having a relo package may not necessarily take you out of the game. You may have a great company that employees will be willing to join at their own expense. You may be fortunate to have your firm located in a location where people want to live (one benefit of being here in Atlanta).

For the foreseeable future, talent mobility is going to be a factor in the executive search and talent acquisition strategies of all firms. It does not look like employee preferences will not be changing in the short-term. This means that it will be creative or well-funded measures to capture that important sub-segment that are open to relocation.