- Unwilling to relocate. A Challenger, Gray & Christmas report found U.S. job seekers relocating for new jobs fell to the lowest level on record in the first quarter of 2023.
- Two main factors. Increased availability of remote and hybrid working options as well as rising mortgage interest rates are the two main reasons survey respondents gave for their unwillingness to relocate for a new job.
- Organizations must adapt. To remain competitive, employers need to adapt their expectations by adopting hybrid and remote work policies. That option also gives an organization the ability to recruit talent from more locations within the country, and even globally.
- Offer incentives. Organizations can alleviate concerns over moving by offering more lucrative relocation assistance or incentives on a case-by-case basis, targeting critical roles or individuals with unique skillsets.
Americans are less likely than ever to relocate for a new job, which is causing employers to adapt and refine their workforce planning efforts.
A Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. report that found job seekers relocating for new jobs fell to the lowest level on record in the first quarter of 2023, as increased availability of remote and hybrid roles drove increased reluctance to move.
An additional factor for the 3,000 job seekers surveyed is rising mortgage interest rates, which makes home buying a less attractive, related option.
Challenger’s survey reported that in the first quarter of 2023, 1.6% of job seekers relocated for new positions, down from 3.7% in the final quarter of 2022 and 4.6% in the same quarter last year. That pace is also much lower than the 7.5% of job seekers who moved for positions in the second quarter of 2020, the highest since Q4 2018, when 7.7% of job seekers relocated.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, nearly a third of job seekers would move for new positions,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “That has fallen steadily since, as housing costs have risen and companies have moved to where talent pools are located. Now, remote and hybrid positions are keeping workers at home.”
A Different Work Landscape
Shekar Nalle Pilli Venkateswara (NV), global leader, work, analysis & design practice leader at WTW, said people and organizations today have realized how feasible it is to work from home and they’ve gotten very used to it.
“As a result, and the survey reflects it, many people are no longer willing to relocate to pursue job opportunities, since they believe they can accomplish their work remotely,” he said.
Shekar NV adds that at the same time, in the past three years technology has matured to support remote working, noting that the quality of apps such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom has improved exponentially.
“Today’s tech provides a better user experience and an easier way to collaborate and share documents than even being in-person in many cases,” he said.
Shekar NV believes that people also are assigning a higher value to work-life balance than they did pre-pandemic. Factors such as having stability, proximity to family, access to amenities, recreational opportunities and a sense of community can influence their decision to stay in their current area rather than relocate, he said.
Shekar NV said it’s also easier to find remote jobs as more are available, so the necessity of relocating is not the reality for many job seekers.
Shekar NV said to remain competitive and tap into the best talent in an increasingly shrinking workforce, employers must reevaluate their workforce planning strategy. In some instances, employers need to adapt their expectations by adopting hybrid and remote work policies. That option also gives an organization the ability to recruit talent from more locations within the country, and even globally.
“Embracing remote work allows employers to lower their costs in some areas and avoid paying for relocation,” he said. “Adapting workforce planning strategies to include remote work can contribute to cost optimization initiatives and allow organizations to allocate resources more efficiently. It also allows for business continuity and disaster preparedness.”
Employers should embrace remote work and drive a culture shift to accept remote/hybrid friendly environment, Shekar NV said. This means building manager/leader capabilities, rethinking performance evaluations and goal setting, as the current capability and process are geared toward primarily managing an onsite workforce.
Shekar NV added that employers must develop a strong employer brand and company culture that appeals to local candidates for hybrid and onsite roles. That means highlighting factors such as work-life balance, career growth opportunities, employee benefits and a positive work environment to attract and retain talent within the local area.
While relocation is becoming less desirable, Shekar NV said that some individuals may still be open to the idea if the right economic incentives are provided. In such cases, organizations can offer more lucrative relocation assistance or incentives on a case-by-case basis, targeting critical roles or individuals with unique skillsets.
“Roles that have tasks that are largely repetitive and independent can be done remotely and roles that have a need for high degree of collaboration or access to a physical space should be onsite or hybrid,” he said.
Shekar NV also recommends that employers review any legal or compliance requirements related to remote work, such as data privacy regulations, employment laws or occupational health and safety guidelines to make the final determination of whether a job can be done remotely.
Ultimately, he said, remote work can lead to cost savings for employers by reducing expenses associated with office space, utilities and other infrastructure. Organizations that have experienced these savings may be more inclined to embrace remote work as a long-term strategy to optimize their operations and reduce overhead costs.
“Many knowledge workers have found remote work to be convenient, flexible and conducive to work-life balance,” Shekar NV said. “At the same time, many employers have witnessed increased productivity, cost savings and access to a larger talent pool. So, it’s a longer-term trend and cannot be ignored.”
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