It’s the age-old question that great minds have been pondering since the beginning of time:
If you’re hiring international talent, should you handle employee relocations in-house, or could someone else do a better job of it?
Let’s put the matter to rest today so you can take the rest of the day off.
(If your boss asks, that didn’t come from us.)
Disclaimer: Jobbatical is a talent relocation and immigration platform, so we already know what our answer is. But we always strive to offer a balanced and honest perspective on all the issues we cover.
In-house vs outsourced relocations: the breakdown
If you’re covering your relocations in-house, you’re obviously not paying someone external to do it all for you. Immigration lawyers and consultants can come with a pretty hefty price tag, so avoiding that expense if you can seems like a great idea to begin with.
But, in more obvious news, that work isn’t getting done for free. You’re still paying someone on your team for the time it takes them to handle relocation cases.
Sure, but the work is getting done, which is all that matters, right? Not necessarily. This could become a huge problem when talent relocation isn’t that person’s main responsibility or area of expertise. And that’s where your perceived savings will be canceled out.
Time and resources
Talent relocation has so many moving parts (pun fully intended) that for your average human, managing them can easily become a full-time job, even when it’s not meant to be.
There’s a lot of hands-on work that someone has to do. Including, but by no means limited to:
- Filling and filing forms for various visas and permits
- Arranging appointments and going to them
- General talent handholding and troubleshooting
- Tracking progress and making sure everything is completed and submitted in time
- And so on...
- ...and so forth
These tasks, so innocent when viewed individually, gradually add up to hours upon hours of work per relocating hire—not even taking into account any spouses, children or pets.
What is already a Herculean task becomes even more back-breaking if you have no...
Without specialized immigration and relocation knowledge on your team, you’re bound to spend a lot of time flailing about, trying to figure it all out. Each country has its own immigration processes and if you don’t know the ins and outs, you’ll be in the dark.
Imagine this very real scenario: You’re relocating a person from India for the first time. You have two people from your HR team researching the visa process.
They end up with two different sets of information.
What do you do? Two people have already spent precious hours on this, and you still don’t know what the truth is. It’s no shocker—immigration laws and government processes are notoriously convoluted, easily misinterpreted, and, more often than not, presented to the general public in confusing language.
It’s an absolute hotbed of misunderstanding.
If you outsource your relocations, you’re taking the guesswork out of the process.
Which will result in...
In-house relocations are likely to take longer than cases handled by uncompromising experts who know the local system through and through.
Another real-life example: With your in-house resources, it may well take you nine months (!) to relocate an engineer from Nigeria to the EU. With a partner—one who has all the pieces of the puzzle laid out and memorized—the process could dwindle down to a fraction of that time.
That kind of speed relies largely on...
The people business is built on trust. Your relocating hires are trusting you to get them to their new home safely, in one piece, with some form of support network waiting for them on the other side. There’s a lot of transparency and communication that goes into building that trust—and justifying it.
They do say that if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. And sure, entrusting a third party to move your people comes with some intrinsic uncertainties:
- Will your relocation partner actually be able to deliver?
- Will they do it fast enough?
- Do they really know what they’re doing?
- Are they telling you everything you need to know?
- Will they give your talent enough support?
So if you’re handling relocations yourself, you’re not adding any additional players into that circle of trust, giving you more control over the process.
Or is it the illusion of control?
Especially if you’re not entirely confident in what you’re doing. Adding intermediaries might seem unnecessary—just another layer of complexity. Just another opportunity for communications to break down and for vital information to get lost between the cracks.
But if you’re working with the right partner, you’re—smartly—investing in...
2020 is the year of the employee experience. Scratch that; every year is the year of the employee experience. A good onboarding and engagement strategy is key to retaining precious talent that you spent god knows how long tracking down.
When you’re working with a trustworthy partner, your talent’s relocation experience isn’t dependent on how much time you happen to have on your hands. Making sure your people arrive in once piece and with minimum anxiety is literally their job. They’ve done it hundreds, thousands of times. All you need to do is ask the talent to see how much a smooth experience helps.
A good partner will make your hires feel safe and welcome. Which is exactly how you want them to start their journey with you.
So, long story short—which option should you go with?
As always, what’s right for you depends—well, on you. But here’s what it boils down to:
How many people you relocate each month vs available resources
In our experience at Jobbatical (as a very rough example; your mileage may vary) if you relocate a steady and predictable 5-10 people a month, you could get away with hiring a dedicated in-house relocation specialist. Anything less OR more than that, and you’re better off going with a partner:
- Less than that, and a full-time relocation person won’t be worth the cost. The rest of your HR/people ops team would absorb the work, which, as we already know, would be a poor use of everyone’s time.
- Any more than 5-10 relocations per month and your in-house relocation person’s workload would become too big. You’d have to hire more of them, at which point it’ll become financially savvier to work with a single partner to cover everything.
But even at 5-10 relocations per month, outsourcing could still be the smart way to go:
- The right expertise is hard to find. For the kind of speed and efficiency you need for smooth relocations, a seasoned partner will easily be worth it over the cost and time of hiring an in-house specialist.
- A specialized relocation hire is just one person. A good relocation service provider comes with the cumulative knowledge, experience, and technology of an entire business built for the single purpose of doing exactly what you need them to do.
So in a nutshell:
An unreliable partner is worse than no partner. And a reliable partner is worth their weight in gold
This is the crux of the matter. Like in relationships—when you know you’ve found the one, you just know.
A good partner will save you countless hours of admin tasks. They’ll also put an end to literal sleepless nights in case of unexpected delays. So read all the testimonials and case studies you can get your hands on, and for more tips, here’s How to Choose an Employee Relocation Service That Doesn't Suck.
Finding a relocation partner isn’t a decision made lightly, but if you get it right, it’ll pay off in spades.