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Family Safety Net for Job Transfers

More workers are worried that their jobs are interfering with personal needs, studies show. Concerns about home and family life can peak when a worker accepts a job offer or transfer to another town. The Employee Relocation Council says there are about 400,000 such job transfers every year in the U.S. But smart employers are starting to respond with services that address personal issues. If you find yourself facing a job-related move, explore relocation services or employee assistance programs with your employer. More companies are providing family related assistance to help workers adapt to moving.

Twice as many workers said they value having a job that doesn't interfere with personal life according to a 1995 study by human resources consultant Stephen A. Zimney and Cambridge Reports/Research International. But workers also gave poor grades to their employers in that regard. Fortunately, in recent years the competitive job market has forced employers to adopt "family friendly" policies. The Employee Relocation Council cites a rising trend in all forms of formal family related assistance to help workers adapt to moving: For example, since 1997, elder care has increased from 4 to 21 percent; child care from 30 to 45 percent; and school finding from 10 to 23 percent. ERC's Executive Vice President, Cris Collie, observed that, "Overall, organizations are more sensitive to employees' family needs and to accommodating them" during a job move or transfer. "We've seen this occur through formal policies and on a request basis."

Look to your company's human resource department for relocation support. Ask for at least one paid trip to the new city or town for initial scouting and research on schools, childcare and housing. Inquire about specific help on housing, including temporary housing assistance while you're searching for a home to buy. In addition, there might be a company-referred real estate service to begin researching neighborhoods and potential homes, as well as mortgage services with pre-approved loans. You might also receive assistance with marketing and selling your current home.

Organizations are recognizing that relocation services are not only key to recruiting employees in a competitive job market, they are essential to help families maintain their quality of life during a stressful time. Companies are responding to social and demographic trends, too, in providing more assistance. There are more women in the workplace and two-income earners per family, plus a higher percentage of elderly in the population that must be cared for by their families. Add that to the ever-expanding technical marketplace, which has generated fierce competition for skilled workers, and it's almost inevitable that employers adopt family related assistance. Not only is it essential to remain competitive, it simply adds to the bottom line by ensuring employee productivity and loyalty. These concerns are not unique to relocating employees, though these needs become critical during relocation. In today's economy, employers are assessing family policies and services offered to their entire employee population.

Sources used to create this article include The Wall Street Journal and The Employee Relocation Council.

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