Global Moves: Ensuring Executive Relocation Is Not Dislocation

Last updated Oct 2, 2022

Are you considering a move for your executive team? Whether it’s because of expansion or to relocate the business, there are many factors to consider before making a decision.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few factors to consider before even thinking about relocation negotiations or what to include in a relocation package.

Reasons to Relocate for a New Executive Job or Assignment

With multinationals leading the way, more Australian organisations today are seeking out ways to better understand the global market.

One strategy is by opening up to new markets in different parts of the world and sending executives and managers on short to semi-permanent global relocation assignments.

These international assignments could occur because of the following reasons:

  • transference of skills and expertise needed within the company in a different geographical location
  • to fill posts where local staff may not have any or limited qualifications
  • to start up operations in a new area
  • to provide development opportunities for the executive
  • to encourage employees to develop a global mindset
  • to resolve a specific problem or issue in another location.

Types of Global Relocation Assignments

Organisations may offer their executives different types of relocation assignments, depending on the company’s budget, the reason for the move and the preferences of the employee. The main types of executive relocations are:

  • Permanent transfer: An employee is permanently transferred to another country by their employer. The employee may be given the opportunity to return to their home country at a later stage, but this is not guaranteed.
  • Rotational transfer: An employee is transferred to another country for a set period of time, after which they will return to their home country. The company may or may not offer the employee the opportunity to rotate to another country after the initial assignment.
  • Short-term transfer: An employee is transferred to another country for a set period of time, usually between one and three years. The company will generally not offer the employee the opportunity to extend their stay or rotate to another country.
  • Long-term transfer: An employee is transferred to another country for an extended period of time, usually between three and five years. The company will generally not offer the employee the opportunity to extend their stay or rotate to another country.

How to Make the Relocation Process Smooth

One of the most important is ensuring that the relocation process does not cause undue stress or dislocation for your employees.

Here are four tips to help make the process as smooth as possible.

1. Define the goals of the move.

Before you start making any plans, it’s important to sit down and clearly define the goals of the relocation. What are you hoping to achieve? Is it a cost-saving measure? Are you looking to tap into new markets? Once you have a clear understanding of the reasons behind the move, you can start to make a plan that will help you achieve those goals.

2. Consider your employees’ needs.

Relocation can be a big upheaval for your employees, both personally and professionally. It’s important to consider their needs and concerns when making any decisions. What kind of support will they need during the transition? How will the move impact their families? Taking the time to address these questions will go a long way in ensuring a successful relocation.

3. Choose the right location.

The location of your new office will have a big impact on both your employees and your business. It’s important to do your research and choose a place that makes sense for everyone involved. Consider the cost of living in the area, the availability of public transportation, and the quality of schools if you have employees with families.

4. Have a solid plan.

Once you’ve decided to relocate, it’s important to have a solid plan in place. This should include everything from finding a new office space to handling the logistics of the move. Having a clear plan will help to ensure that the relocation goes smoothly and that your employees are able to hit the ground running in their new location.

Other Important Factors to Consider When Planning Relocation

When it comes to executive relocation, there are a number of factors organisations need to consider in order to ensure a smooth transition for their employees.

If you’re considering executive relocation for your organisation, keep these factors in mind to help make the transition as smooth as possible:


Executives chosen for these assignments need to have not only the skills, relevant experience and value to the company but also be open to learning and looking for new experiences and challenges. When selecting employees, managers shouldn’t assume that if the executive performs well in their home country that the same will apply overseas.


You need to balance a candidate’s personal preferences with the company’s needs and still fill vacancies in less desired locations.

Length of assignment

Depending on the company’s objectives the assignment could be from several months to several years. 1-6 months for general training at a certain location; 1 year with a specific objective to resolve an issue for example improving relations with external suppliers, re-organisation in a department etc.; longer-term assignments, up to 3-5 years are given to set up company’s operations abroad, for restructuring or simply to manage an important market.

Relocation Policy

Younger employees can be more mobile (ie they don’t have dependents) and are more open to opportunities to work in a different country and environment. Companies can provide a policy that includes provision for accommodation as well as an assignment promising personal and career growth.

For the employees between 30 and 50 years old, the support of the family is very critical to the successful performance of the relocated employee. Therefore companies would need to provide policies that would assist with the rental or purchase of a home or support in finding a school for children and career advising for spouses. Delivering the right support for employees and their families may mean the difference between the success or failure of an assignment.

Expatriate life

Living overseas is obviously going to be different than in the home country. New languages (in most cases) and cultures will be presented. Those who are able to accept and adapt will find it much easier to succeed in their assignments and have a more life-enriching and enjoyable experience.


Upon returning to their home country, many executives find their assignments have greatly assisted with career progression and believe it to be a great addition to their resume, which could enhance future executive job opportunities and international careers. Others worry that once returning to their home country they will not have sufficient knowledge of current local practices to compete with domestically settled executives. Returning home can be a bit of a shock for anyone given an assignment overseas for a period of time, re-acclimating means re-adopting the home country’s way of life and on the business side of things it may mean changes in the way of communication within the organisation and how things operate in the home country’s office. It might also mean a sense of loss with the lack of opportunity to use valuable skills and experiences which were acquired abroad.

Each of these factors comes into play when thinking of whether you need to fill a position in an overseas location, it will also help you define what kind of candidate is needed and what you will need to include in your relocation package and negotiations.

Final Thoughts

Executive relocation is a process that can be filled with challenges for both the employee and the company. By understanding the factors involved in executive relocation, companies can develop policies that will assist in a successful assignment. When negotiating an executive relocation package, it is important to take into account the individual’s needs as well as the company’s objectives.

Have you experienced relocating an executive in your organisation before? What would your tips be in the research and planning stage?

By: Curran Daly + Associates


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