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What A Pasta Pot Can Teach You About Mental Health During A Relocation

All too often I see corporate relocation packages focus on the logistics: 

  • Securing visas, 
  • Arranging flights,  
  • Paying for furniture removal, and
  • Providing temporary housing. 

Tick. Tick. Tick.

These aspects are undeniably essential, particularly securing the legal documentation and the flights, but times have changed. Take temporary accommodation, for example. Believe it or not, you can delete this off the budget and the bottom line. It is costly and not always convenient for the family, who want to just get back to routine and have children enrolled in school. But this is for another blog.

Today, I want to focus on something most corporate relocation packages miss: the mental health of your employee (and their family).

Let me take you back to 2019 and share the story of Lelani and her family.

The pasta pot vs corporate office

One Saturday morning, Lelani contacted me via WhatsApp. As a mother myself,   I was balancing teenager sports, whilst  running a business.    It was mid morning I received Lelani’s first text message:

“How do we get train cards?” she asked.

Before I could respond to her first message, along came more questions:

“We arrive at midnight, what is the safest way to get to a hotel in the city?” 

“We don’t have time to pack our house up, so we are leaving everything behind. Do you know the cheapest way to get furniture?”  

We exchanged messages and later in the afternoon, when I finally had a moment to catch my breath, I stopped and thought, “Why isn’t Lelani sleeping? She is 10 hours behind my timezone. She should not be texting me all day.” 

Obviously I asked her and the response was a line full of crying emojis!  Her husband had been offered a job, they were arriving in 2 weeks. She had no time to pack up the house, they needed to jump at this opportunity before it was gone. It was literally the “ticket to their dreams.”

I asked her “What are you bringing? I can suggest some options.”  

“My pasta pot!!!” was her simple reply.

Imagine my surprise when she said that? “How?” I asked myself. “Honestly, how had she stood in her home, looked around and said, ‘I am taking the pasta pot!’?”

Meanwhile back in the Melbourne corporate suite, they zeroed in on Peter being needed behind the desk ASAP. The waiting for the visa had already delayed productivity, so they were ensuring this was going to be a very quick relocation.  “Pay for last minute temporary accommodation was the instruction, we need him fast!”  

But let’s go back to Lelani. Where is her focus? 

Well, still on her pasta pot. Her priority was feeding her family.

This is a gap that needs to be addressed in all corporate moves. Yes, employee productivity is crucial but let’s not forget the family that’s coming along with them. Moving countries is a significant life event!

Corporate relocations statistics

Remember, when your employees move, you’re not moving only them. According to Impact Group:

  • 89% move with spouse or partner
  • 52% move with kids
  • 33% move with pets
  • 2% move with elders or parents

Only 32% move alone.

Each of these groups have different relocation needs. Those who relocate alone might be happy with a basic relocation package: flights, visa, and accommodation; those with kids need to find schools that align with their values, sports or other activities for their kids, family-friendly communities – on top of the spouse’s need to find a job or undergo language and cultural training.

Why are these important?

We have all heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While physiological needs–air, shelter, food, water, clothing and sleep–are the foundation, it’s not everything. We also need safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualisation.

These are crucial for their wellbeing, a critical aspect that directly affects workplace productivity, and ultimately, the company’s bottom line.

According to Gallup

  • Companies worldwide lose $300+ billion on turnover and productivity cost due to burnout,
  • Seventy-five percent (75%) of medical costs could have been prevented, as these are mostly stress-related, and
  • Burnout is a major driver of voluntary turnover, costing companies an average of 15-20% of their total payroll in replacement expenses.

It’s also worth mentioning that relocating is a big life event and its impact on a person’s mental well being is akin to getting divorce. You can read more about this information in my article about building a relocation framework.

This is why the priority for corporate relocations needs to change. It should include the family and the importance of their wellbeing. Offering even a little bit of relocation support and advice can change the dynamic. 

Improving mental health during a corporate relocation

Instead of shouldering the burden of relocation logistics yourself, consider partnering with a relocation professional. These specialists offer a comprehensive suite of services aimed at creating a smooth and positive experience for your relocating employees and their families.

Some of the benefits relocation specialists offer include:

  • Streamlined process: Relocation professionals can be your single point of contact, handling all logistics from visa applications and housing searches to shipping and cultural briefings. This frees up your internal HR team to focus on core business activities.
  • Personalised support for families: Relocation professionals offer customised support to spouses and children, helping them adjust to a new environment, find schools, and connect with the local community.
  • Expert policy and budget management: Relocation specialists stay up-to-date on the latest regulations and immigration policies. They also work within your budget parameters. They find cost-effective solutions without compromising on service quality.
  • Extensive network of resources: Relocation professionals have established relationships with a network of reliable partners, including housing providers, cultural experts, and language tutors. This network ensures your employees receive comprehensive support throughout the relocation journey.
  • Building resilience and cultural competency: Relocation professionals can offer coaching programs to help your employees build resilience and adapt to a new cultural environment. Cross-cultural training programs further help employees to understand and navigate local customs and communication styles. Both of which help your international assignees and their family integrate into their new environment more effectively.

How Personnel Relocations can help

We offer a comprehensive range of services designed to take the stress out of moving and ensure a smooth transition for your employees.

Consultation

We offer a one-hour consultation service where our relocation specialists can answer your employee’s questions about the rental market, school options, navigating different suburbs, and more. This personalised session allows them to make informed decisions about their move.

Migrant Mindset Coaching

Our certified coaches provide relocating employees with tools and strategies to build resilience and adapt to a new cultural environment. This is a FREE offer as part of all our comprehensive relocation packages.

Securing a Rental

Our team helps secure a rental property that meets your employee’s needs before they arrive.  This means no stressful house hunting upon arrival, allowing your employee to focus on work and integrate into the new community from day one.  No more hours spent scrolling through real estate listings – they can hit the ground running, engaged and focused on their new role.

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