Worker Mobility Takes a Hit

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For those of us involved in corporate recruiting, relocation is always an issue in landing a new hire. Relocations for career change dropped 10% in the last reported year, according to a Wall Street Journal report. This represents a reversal of previous trends. The big change in worker mobility is surprisingly due to strengthening in the US economy as well as social changes, making candidates less interested in relocation.

During the Great Recession, recruiters knew that potential candidates were often too insecure to leave their current job. Mobility ebbed to the lowest levels seen in decades. Gradually, the economy entered recovery, and we all witnessed increased worker confidence regarding the relocation proposition.

So why the recent downturn?

• In a strong economy, workers don’t need to relocate to get a new opportunity, especially if they are located in market hubs that favor their skills.

• In competitive markets, workers are well compensated where they are, since employers want to keep them

• Families are more complex, according to a new report by the respected Pew Research Center. Women are contributing more to family income, making relocation decisions tougher. Younger fathers are saying they are more involved in family matters. Separation and divorce rates motivate former partners to remain in proximity to ongoing parenting.

• Relocation assistance has fallen off as companies realize employee tenure has fallen off. Expected tenure has changed the employee perspective, creating a reluctance to uproot lives for what might be a short-term gain.

Our firm is entering its twenty-fifth year of global recruiting. We’ve seen these changes up-close. Skilled recruiters on the agency or corporate side need to factor these new motivators into their search strategies to improve their odds in filling open positions.

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Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher