Companies relocate business operations for a variety of reasons, including:
- To get closer to customers
- To get closer to existing talent base, e.g. when opening a new R&D facility
- A merger
- A shift in corporate strategy, such as from an industrial base to a knowledge base
- To leverage local infrastructure (e.g. utilities and transport)
- Corporate image (e.g. relocation from small town to big city)
- Investment grants and incentives
- Reduce corporate cost structure e.g. through shared services centre
Whatever the rationale behind relocation, the goal is to improve a company’s competitive position and business performance. Many companies relocate for non-financial reasons, such as getting closer to customers. The first six reasons listed above are focused on performance rather than cost and will not necessarily yield a positive financial payback, or could even involve higher costs. Generally speaking, they will lead to the creation of new entities that have employee populations dominated by professionals and geographic salary differentials are negligible or at least compressed.
On the other hand, there are several types of relocation that fall under the eighth (and possibly also seventh) heading, the imperative of lowering the corporate cost structure. These often include new manufacturing facilities, distribution centres, customer service centres, shared services centres and various back-office operations that are located to lower cost regions and have a high proportion of hourly employees and geographic wage differentials are significant.
There are many more examples, but in all cases recruitment is going to be one of your main challenges and in all probability you will lack sufficient locally based HR resources with the necessary time and knowledge to handle the project within the set time constraints. It therefore makes sense to speak to a recruitment agency to get advice and insights into the talent market and start the process of identifying candidates early on.
Here are the typical 10 steps that we would take on a relocation recruitment project:
- Initial analysis of the company and the drivers behind the relocation, as outlined above
- Feasibility study, salary benchmark, mobility check and employer branding analysis
- Recruitment project design, including candidate profiling, remuneration packages, and your positioning in the local job market
- Interrogation of databases to identify existing talent pools and engage with potential candidates
- Design of recruitment campaigns, including candidate care
- Screening of potential candidates (eligibility for employment, motivation etc.)
- Individual in-depth assessment for selection and integration
- Advice on suitability, potential, training/on-boarding requirements and team composition, including contracting support (if required)
- Design of a “best-in-class” recruitment process to reduce time-to-hire, and integrating with your existing talent acquisition systems (if required)
- Build and transfer services to hand over processes and systems to internal HR/TA teams at the end of the project
As part of the above-process, a project recruitment partner can bring a number of value-adds to the table. These include:
TA-related location analysis
“Location, location, location” also applies very much to talent acquisition. The recruitment consultant needs to provide honest advice and design the project around your specific objectives and within the constraints. A company’s new location, while bringing other benefits, may present recruitment challenges. For example, a life sciences company that is located relatively far from a sector hub will have greater difficulty in filling roles within a short timeframe: first of all because there are fewer local candidates and secondly because there is a greater risk (or at least, perceived risk) for candidates who relocate: what happens if things don’t work out?
These are the potential “negatives” but there are many potential “positives” that recruitment consultant like M3S can help you identify. Not all candidates want to be in a sector hub: in fact, top professionals are confident of progressing their careers wherever they are, and often choose to relocate based on quality-of-life considerations.
Second, the nature of the work on offer may be a major incentive: again, if we take science companies, working on a niche project where the candidate feels s/he could make a real difference will be a compelling reason to pursue an opportunity.
Third, many high quality overseas candidates may be attracted by the opportunity to experience a new culture. And fourth, financial considerations such as cost of living could make all the difference. These last two factors are often critical to acquiring talent for demanding hourly paid roles, such as in a customer or shared services centre.
A challenge that is frequently encountered when companies relocate is that they have a good brand reputation in existing geographies but not in the new one. Your project recruitment partner can work to define the company’s employee value proposition and fully understand its corporate story. It can then serve as your brand ambassador and sell the benefits of a career with your company to candidates who might not have considered it in the first instance. For example, in the IT sector this might involve explaining that you are using the latest technologies and/or that the role will involve working on large or interesting development projects in areas such as data analytics.
As well as direct engagement with candidates, blogging and social media can help spread the word within target professional communities.