Men are more mobile

Oct 27 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Men are more mobile than their female colleagues when it comes to relocating for work reasons and are almost twice as likely to move with their jobs, according to new research by The Work Foundation.

When explaining the reasons for relocation, men are nearly twice as likely as women to move for promotion (54 per cent of men vs 31 per cent of women). The same is true for staff development (29 per cent vs 15 per cent) and to alleviate skills shortages (28 per cent vs 16 per cent ).

The Work Foundation’s latest latest Managing Best Practice guide suggests that seven out of ten UK employers need to relocate staff within the country and up to one in three abroad.

British workers moving abroad are as likely to be sent outside Europe as within it. This reflects the changing patterns of globalisation on trade and investment - people follow business patterns. So manufacturers tend to relocate to Europe and financial services to North America.

A similar map is evident in the UK, with the South East the most likely destination and Northern Ireland the least.

The Work Foundation says that this is probably unwelcome proof that, despite recent progress, women are still under-represented in senior management positions in UK Plc as it is organisations with more than 1,000 employees that are most likely to use relocation as a promotion tool.

Relocation is also an expensive exercise. Almost seven out of ten individual relocations cost more than £10,000 and one in ten costs more than £18,000.

These costs tend to accrue on the most overt costs of moving as business pay for, such as removals, legal fees and estate agents fees.

But organisations still have some way to go in alleviating financial losses such as mortgage redemption charges or helping with guaranteed sales prices for houses.

The burden of organising the logistics of relocation falls overwhelmingly on the HR function - eight out of ten are handled by HR and outside help only tends to be used for specific activities, such as removal or valuation.

The reliance on HR is explained to a great extent by the fact that more than seven out of ten organisations do not train their managers in managing relocation.

“While the financial costs are naturally important, the real issues are about people. Relocation is an incredibly significant event for those involved, particularly if they have family that has to move abroad,” explains, Nick Isles, deputy director of advocacy at The Work Foundation.

“Our research clearly shows that more and more organisations appreciate this and treat their employees as individuals. The sensitivities of those involved must be carefully balanced against the financial implications for the company.”

“Employee relocation closely reflects the trends we see in business every day, for example, globalisation and the desire for work life balance, but also predominance of males in senior management,” he continued.

“In five years time, I am sure the picture will have changed again as employers continue to implement best practice in fair and equitable working practices.”