Are Employees Who Relocate Hitting Their Happy Factor?

October 4, 2019
Author: Jay Denton

When it comes to recruiting talent from other cities, competitive salary offers and benefits packages matter. But when it comes to retention, the happy factor plays a big part.

Relocation Success Lies With Lifestyle Alignment

While geographic location influences whether or not a potential employee takes a job, the culture and amenities of the area provide the persuasive reasons to stay. Moving from one area to another, particularly from one that is vastly different from the previous, can be a culture shock. As such, some experts advise addressing questions related to lifestyle as part of the initial recruiting process.

Consider the Lay of the Land

A former hiring manger for a Fortune 500 company said her enterprise learned teh hard way that salaries aren’t enough to keep employees at their desks. She said that after relocating new hires from big cities to suburban areas, it wasn’t long until they quit and moved back. The expense, both in time and resources, could have been reduced had the company considered the importance of aligning the employee’s cultural interests with the geographic location.

“When hiring, you have to test the person to find out whether or not they can make that cultural shift,” she explained. “Moving from Boston to L.A. isn’t a big shift. But you have to tease out what these people do outside of work. Do they go hiking on weekends or go to a play? If they like to be outdoors and go biking and hiking, the relocating them to Colorado isn’t a big shift. If they want access to professional sports games or the theater, you shouldn’t put them in Boise, Idaho.”

The former hiring manager said now her company considers factors like diversity, access to the arts, city walkability and even transportation.

“Now we explore (their lifestyle needs) in the interviews,” she added. “We encourage them to drive around so they can see the community. We ask them to take time to see if they can embrace it.”

Consider the Importance of Competition

While age, job position and mobility also play a role in whether or not someone is willing to relocate, recruiters can’t underestimate the importance of having competitive businesses in the same area.

While this may seem counter-productive, younger professionals and those looking for a solid career progression may feel greater satisfaction with the area when they see there is competitive activity and energy. This reality may help professionals feel like they have future career options and can avoid falling into the trap of “feeling stuck” in a place with limited opportunity.

Considering the Happy Factor

Despite the importance of finding the right lifestyle fit, many recruiting conversations around culture have to do with the company, rather than the area. However, as global competition increases, recruiters will have to make these considerations a part of the process, explained the former hiring manager.

“We made a shift in our approach,” she said. “We added new filters and new questions, such as, ‘If you could work anywhere where would it be?’”

The happy factor will always be important for job retention, but in a tight labor market, it’s even more critical. For dissatisfied employees, more money won’t be the answer, particularly when there’s another opportunity in a city they like better. To mitigate turnover, asking questions about lifestyle might be the key finding the right hire — and increasing retention success.