How to Design a Comprehensive Mobility Program on a Limited Budget

Published: Monday, August 19, 2019
Kris Herring

When it comes to developing a comprehensive mobility program, smaller companies, or companies that have low annual relocation volumes, often struggle due to budget constraints. In some cases, failure to understand the importance of strong program may prevent decision makers from allocating enough funds. In others, they may not be aware that strategic programs can be extremely helpful when resources are limited. Below, we discuss why the development of a quality relocation program is so important, regardless of mobility population size or deployment frequency, and provide some helpful tips on what companies can do to be more successful when they’re working under these restrictions.   

Why are Mobility Programs Important?

They play a part in attracting and retaining key talent: Since recruiting is often a new hire’s first experience with an organization, providing them with a smooth relocation will be key to starting them off with the right impression. Likewise, key talent that’s already working for your organization may have come from a company with a more robust program. In either case, attracting and keeping talent is directly correlated to the support you provide your employees at every stage of their time with your organization.

They provide opportunities for upward mobility to your employees: According to a Korn Ferry Institute report, the top reason people listed for wanting to change jobs in 2018 was boredom. Thirty-three percent of respondents said they needed a new challenge in their work lives. Additionally, a survey conducted by the Robert Half Agency in January of 2019 indicated that 62% of American workers would relocate for the right job. Americans aren’t alone, however. A recent Monster survey of 200,000 job seekers from 189 countries revealed that 60% of respondents were willing to work abroad, with even higher numbers for Millennials.  Relocation is often the gateway to provide opportunities to employees looking for opportunities to grow, develop their skills, and find fulfillment while growing your company.

They can help your company by providing a competitive advantage:  While many companies offer a signing bonus and assume that this will carry employee through a relocation, this belief can often backfire. When an employee is asked to manage his or her own relocation – from research to implementation – s/he is unable to fully focus on both the new position and the relocation itself. In turn, this can lead to inefficiency and problems with the relocation process that are often not identified until they have become major issues. With no advocate, the employee may overpay for services or have no recourse when their chosen suppliers have service failures. All of this can easily translate into losses in productivity and finances for the company.

Creating a Sound Mobility Program when Working with a Low Budget

Despite limited resources and the challenges companies face, there are a few things that companies can do to build sound relocation programs. They can: 

  1. Arm themselves with knowledge: There is a wealth of content that can be found online and via subject matter experts that will help you and your company learn how other companies are handling their relocation programs, along with trends and best practices in the industry. Many relocation management companies publish annual reports, white papers and blog posts. Their expertise can provide a strong education on many of the topics that should be considered when relocating employees.
  2. Consider the type of program being utilized:

    Tiered Program – A single employee who plans to rent an apartment doesn’t need the same level of financial support as an executive with a family and home to sell.  As a result, many companies develop a tiered program, in which varying levels of support and funding are assigned, and then administered consistently among similar employees who fall into that tier or group. This results in the best, most appropriate service for each employee while managing costs for the company. 

    Core-Flex Program – In a core-flex program, a group of core benefits is assigned to all employees, such as the shipment of household goods, final move trip and, perhaps, a home sale program. In addition to this, however, each employee is provided with an additional budget to utilize for other services that are specific to his/her needs. The program can also be tiered.

    Lump Sum Program – In a lump sum program, employees are provided with a finite funding amount that they manage independently. While many companies provide this type of program to their employees, we strongly recommended not utilizing this type of program unless the company also provides support and guidance to their employees on how to best allocate the funds. Without guidance, again, the company risks losses in productivity and ROI.

    Local-Plus Program – A local-plus program applies to international assignments, in which the employee is placed on the host country salary structure, but given some additional benefits such as transportation or housing. In addition to finding that this type of program can be more cost effective, some companies appreciate the fact that employees are paid in the same manner as their local native colleagues, which reduces inequality and fosters consistency.   

  3. Join an independent relocation forum: There are great benefits to be obtained by joining organizations such as Worldwide ERC or FEM.Membership is typically free and the many opportunities for lower-volume clients to network with their peers, both on line and in person, are invaluable. Through networking, company stakeholders can share ideas and gather useful information specific to their program goals.

  4. Work with a Relocation Management Company (RMC): Many RMCs have developed services that are specifically tailored to companies that implement a low volume of relocations, annually. SIRVA, for example, has assembled an Advantage team, a distinct division at SIRVA comprised of trained account managers and front-line specialists. iMOVE, our next generation technology designed specifically for the relocating employee, provides guidance and resources that allows them to self-manage their relocations from any web-enabled device. In addition to offering a wealth of SIRVA-vetted supplier contacts for every stage of the move process, it also provides users with cost comparisons, timelines and milestone notices, and access to a live consultant when needed.


From policy and program consulting to education and implementation, an experienced RMC becomes an extension of a company’s internal team, providing years of expertise that foster efficiency and talent retention. Additionally, by providing employees with a single consultant contact, employers support smooth relocations; in the long run, this ensures that the company remains less prone to the financial and productivity losses mentioned above.


There’s no question that designing a sound mobility program is a complex issue, but it’s also a strategic choice – a choice that results in enhanced employer reputation, talent retention and productivity. Whether you manage your own relocations or enlist the help of an experienced RMC, acknowledging the complexities and importance of mobility is an important first step. Ultimately, dedicating the right amount of time, attention, and funding to a strong mobility program becomes a worthwhile investment in both a company’s employees and its overall stability, growth and success.  


If your company implements less than 30 relocations per year, we encourage you to contact us at for information on how SIRVA’s Advantage team can support your relocation program.