Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: HR smoothes the way

August 29, 2017

In the era of flexible and remote working spaces, there remain vastly more businesses which require ‘solid’ premises. There are a range of reasons why a company may move: to expand the operation in growth or when merging with another operation, to save on costs in harder times as well as move to enterprise zones or to where the market requires the business to be sited.

Here, Claire Morley-Jones tells more about why HR must be involved at the earliest point in the planning to help smooth the way (as well as avoid costly employment tribunals!)

By Claire Morley-Jones

business relocation role of HR

Relocating your business is bound to take up plenty of important business time and effort – and it is stressful at the least. So you want to make the whole process as smooth as possible. You sort out finance, acquisition of new premises and disposal of existing, packing and removal, contacting clients etc etc. but what about your employees?

Given that staff will have to move too, careful people management to ensure retention of those essential to the success of your business is vital (otherwise why move in the first place!?)

Your HR professional should sit at the table from the earliest meetings to discuss the people strategy which needs to sit as part of the overall relocation strategy, right through to, and beyond, implementation.

As well as a depth of knowledge about strategic issues such as transition management, ultimately, your HR professional will have a handle on employee rights and the business’s responsibilities – helping prevent costly tribunals if these rights are breached.

Employee rights

Relocation will highlight if you got your employment contracts right at the outset!

This is because an employee’s rights when a business relocates will be based on the terms of the contract of their employment. Did you include what is known as a ‘mobility clause’ which allows reasonable flexibility as to where the employee will work? It is often hard to pin down what is reasonable which is where costly court action is likely to come in!

Consultation and communication to the staff – and their representatives – is key and your HR professional can help lay out your plans at the earliest stages to avoid problems later on.

There are factors in employees’ lives which means they may not be happy relocating – life-stage, distance, cost, family commitments and so on. Your HR professional will work hard to build packages to suit your key staff or put in place other options such as a trial relocation period.

Strategic view

As well as transition management and a tight rein on consulting and communicating with employees and key stakeholders, what else will HR professionals bring to the table?

1. Talent management – who is it vital that the business must retain, then developing employee relocation packages for those moving and severance packages for those who don’t or won’t.

2. Identifying key stakeholders – who will influence the workforce (either positively or negatively) and how should you communicate with them?

3. Engagement – keeping employees on track with running the business right through the transistion period, whether or not they are being retained.

4. Communication – keeping all staff happy by regular communication and openness including publishing FAQs.

5. Change management – helping managers and other leaders to closely communicate with staff to help with engagement processes.

Getting the people bit right

In short, for any business relocation it is incredibly important to get the people ‘bit’ right – even before you know you will want/need to relocate your business – and even in ensuring your employment contracts are flexible right now!

HR is a specialist role and many businesses don’t have an in-house team. Where there is an HR Manager, they may need additional short term support through strategy development and implementation. Outsourced HR consultancy is a solution to both problems, working in partnership with your business’s management team right through the process.

HR180 are one of the longest standing companies to offer Outsourced HR consultancy to SMEs. Get in touch with us for a chat about your situation and we will assess exactly what you need – from contracts to strategies we’ve been there, done that, worn the t-shirt. Contact details are below for your free assessment over a cuppa.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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