Diversity and Inclusion – Is It Time to Revise Your Relocation Policy?

More and more, companies are seeing the value of a diverse workforce. Not only does it help the organization reflect the nation’s

Business women looking at sticky note on a discussion board

More and more, companies are seeing the value of a diverse workforce. Not only does it help the organization reflect the nation’s increasingly diverse population, it helps bring new ideas and perspectives to common business challenges. And as individuals with different backgrounds and needs come on board, it’s necessary that companies subsequently review their policies to ensure that they are inclusive of everyone. Without question, this includes relocation policies.

On one hand, part of the benefit of relocation policies is the consistency they bring – no more spending excessive time and resources developing a relocation package for each and every transferee. A proper policy should provide the common move-related needs of your employees. But it’s important to consider how narrowly you may be defining “common,” and if certain employees are excluded from receiving the same level of benefits as others.

Does your policy accommodate different needs?

Whether by design or not, many relocation policies traditionally have been written for married employees who have children and own a home. It’s fair to say, this isn’t reflective of everyone in your organization. Does your policy offer “equal benefits” to those with different needs, such as younger millennials or single parents? For example, a common relocation “perk” is some degree of home-sale assistance. But not everyone owns a home. In fact, more millennials are opting to rent instead of buy for a variety of reasons. Adding rental assistance benefits can be more accommodating to this demographic.

Arguably the best way to ensure your policy’s benefits are inclusive of your workforce’s diverse needs is to do an internal audit. Whether through focus groups or surveys – or a combination of both – asking your employees directly about what offerings they’d prefer will give you clearer insight and help them feel cared for.

Who is covered under your policy?

For those policies that include benefits for immediate family members, how does your policy identify those individuals? For example, caring for elderly parents is the cultural norm for many ethnicities. Given your employee base, does it make sense to include relocation assistance for these individuals as well? Conversely, fewer organizations are including domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, unless they are married, preferring to have the same standard apply to all employees.

Is the policy language inclusive?

Part of your review shouldn’t only be of the specific offerings of your package, but also the language used to outline everything. More than a third of employees are minorities, half are women, and more than 10 million Americans identify as LBGTIQ. Rarely is exclusive language used in such documents intentionally, but unintentional biases can and do occur, leaving many feeling marginalized when reading over your company’s materials. Harvard’s Professional Development Program has some helpful tips for making your policies more inclusive.

As has always been the case, there’s no right answer for what benefits your relocation policy should include to be considered “inclusive.” It simply should meet the needs of your employees, which starts with routinely assessing the assistance they need to have a seamless relocation. It shouldn’t be assumed that everything is OK just because you haven’t heard otherwise from your employees. Not everyone is comfortable speaking up, and being proactive with issues like this can be a strong and positive message to your employees. If your policy hasn’t evolved with your organization’s workforce, it might be time to look things over.