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How to Ensure Your Relocation Benefits Are Both Flexible and Inclusive

Core-flex benefits supplement the core aspects of your relocation policy, which allows for greater consistency and generally a better rate for the services that every relocating employee needs.

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When it comes to employees’ needs and expectations these days, one of the biggest underlying themes is flexibility. The number of workers who cite flexible work benefits as a highly important perk of their job jumped nearly 43% from 2019 to 2022, according to a recent SHRM survey.

One-size-fits-all approaches are seen as red flags for many candidates, wanting an employer to allow work arrangements, benefits, and other aspects about their job to be personalized to their needs. Many HR professionals can appreciate these wants, but also must balance them with an organization’s need for efficiency and standardization.

This is particularly true with relocation benefits. The who, what, when, and how of a relocation is unique from one person to another. While there may be some general benefits that most people require, there are others only a smaller percentage may utilize, but who also find them to be remarkably valuable.

For years, one strategy was to offer relocating employees a lump sum, which is where they receive a relocation allowance to spend as they see fit. This strategy has its benefits, but it can put an undue burden on the employee. Fortunately, there’s another option that affords companies the ability to offer both standardization and personalization: core-flex plans.

What are Core-Flex Benefit Plans?

Core-flex benefits supplement the core aspects of your relocation policy – together, this is commonly called “core-flex plans.” For example, shipping household goods is a service virtually every person needs, and therefore, is included as a core benefit. This allows for greater consistency and generally a better rate for the services that every relocating employee needs.

Most companies set a cap for how much their flex benefits will cover. This also can vary if a company’s relocation policy is tiered by job function and/or seniority.

It also is common for companies to pre-select available flex benefits as more of an “a la carte” menu based on those extra services most frequently requested by their employees. Similar to core benefits, pre-selecting available flex benefits can make administering and negotiating rates for these supplementary services easier.

How Do Core-Flex Benefit Plans Differ from Lump Sum Benefits?

While they might sound similar, flex benefits are not the same as lump sums. As mentioned above, lump sum programs give employees a set amount of money to use for their move at their discretion. This approach carries obvious benefits to busy HR managers who don’t have the time to manage multiple relocations, but it does leave more unseasoned movers subject to some difficult situations.

Core-flex plans ensure that employees get the basic moving services they need with a more defined way to handle “exception requests.” This also highlights the need to do a regular review of your relocation policy – generally annually – to see what services and exceptions employees request most and what you should consider adding to your policy.

How Core-Flex Benefits Support DEI Efforts

Traditionally, relocation policies often have been developed for employees who were married, had kids, and owned a home. Increasingly, these characteristics are not true of many U.S. workers. Comparing 2011 to 2021, the latest Census data shows a decline in both the number of married adults (50% down from 52%) and those who have kids (40% down from 44%). When it comes to owning a home, millennials continue be “behind” previous generations. Although they’re the largest age group, they only account for 17% of homeowners.

It’s fair to say, this approach 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, nearly one in five millennials expect to always rent their home. Adding rental assistance benefits can be more accommodating to this demographic, particularly amidst such a historically competitive rental market.

Evaluating Your Relocation Benefits to Align with Your DEI Efforts

One of the best ways 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 18 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 Business Review outlines several ways to make your company’s language more inclusive.

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Just like your employees’ relocation needs, every company is different. Depending on your HR department’s bandwidth, hiring goals and other factors, you may be better suited for a core-flex policy. Regardless of the specific approach you take, reviewing your relocations benefits for both flexibility and inclusiveness is key.

If you need assistance re-evaluating your relocation policy benefits for the changing workforce, we can help you figure the best strategy for your organization!