In-House or Outsource?

Imy Clarke - On behalf of Alchemy Recruitment, March 12, 2014

Business equates to two things: time and money. Relocating employees is no different. Increased globalization has shifted the relocation industry from in-house teams to outsourcing to specialist companies. Finding compromise between cost economy and quality service is of the utmost importance, so what is best for you?

In-house relocation teams are no longer as common as they once were. Even household names such as Unilever have abandoned the in-house method for outsourced contracts. The question is why? For most companies it’s a matter of money. Large companies, such as Unilever, who are relocating hundreds of employees each year, have just too many relocation cases for an in-house team to handle. A globalization boom, the expansion of the EU and a breakdown of barriers between the major markets has meant companies can grow and expand as desired. For companies who only deal with a single relocation at a time, in-house relocation still has its advantages. The company is most likely small with perhaps less of a global reach; it is more likely to know its employees personally and be aware of their needs when relocating. There may even be alternatives to a full-scale relocation, such as long distance commute or telecommuting. But even handling a single relocation can be very tough and complex work for a HR department.

The relocation industry has changed dramatically. It has become complex, with expatriates demanding services for every detail of the relocation: real estate, mortgages, tax, schools, transport, van lines, immigration authorities, community resources, career development for spouses, child care, pet relocation…the list is seemingly endless. This is where outsourcing comes into its element. Relocation companies and consultants have specialist in-depth knowledge, most often from years of experience working in in-house teams, of every aspect of the relocation process. Particularly larger companies have long standing relationships with many other industry professionals, from real estate agents to school search consultants. Job candidates in companies where relocation is a big possibility are more than aware of relocation policies; they know what to ask for and they want to know exactly what HR will do for them. Outsourcing, more often than not, relieves everyone’s stress.

Yet, outsourcing relocation still requires a choice. Do you choose a large, internationally known organization, or instead do you choose a smaller, more localized company? Often bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Previous employees of relocation heavyweights such as Brookfield GRS, Cartus, Sterling and Crown have founded many of the smaller organizations. As they will have fewer caseloads they are more likely to be accessible, flexible, quick to solve unexpected problems and less unlikely to have staff turnover. Yet the larger companies still have many advantages: economic capacity, international networks, high-end technology and a well-established approach allowing clients to know exactly what services they’ll receives.

While business does invariably come down to time and money, in the case of relocation it should be far more personal. Service, costs and culture compatibility should all be considered. There is no definitive answer to whether relocation should be in-house or outsourced, or whether a bigger or smaller company should be used. Find the best fit to your relocation criteria and shop around.

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