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Job Transfers Can Cut Productivity, Study Finds

June 30, 1989|CINDY SKRZYCKI | The Washington Post

BOSTON — About 20% of the U.S. population moves each year in a job transfer, and for most of these people one thing is almost certain: The move will cause major stress, according to a survey by done by the Marriott Corp.

Although American companies have long focused on what it costs to move employees--they spend about $15 billion a year doing so--less attention has been paid to how the move affects the employee's productivity in the new job.

Residence Inn by Marriott, an extended-stay hotel that draws about 12% of its business from people moved by their companies, found in a recent survey that businesses could do more to make a transfer less stressful for an employee.

The survey, based on interviews with 200 people who had been transferred in their jobs within the past 18 months, found that there was a large discrepancy between what employees hoped to get and what they did get from their employers in matters such as recommendations for schools and day care, cost-of-living increases, home buy-back options and employment assistance for spouses.

Dealing with these issues and other matters associated with moving, according to the survey, leaves two out of three employees feeling much stress after the move.

Spouses Suffered Too

Those particularly pained by moving were less satisfied with what their companies had offered to ease the transition, experienced more stress in adjusting to their new jobs and were less productive during the first few months after moving.

Further, 86% reported that their spouses found the move stressful, which contributed to the employee's stress level.

"If you can keep the home side happy, you typically have a less-stressed employee," said Andrea Goodman, vice president of sales and marketing for Marriott's Residence Inn.

The transfer itself can be motivating, however (half said that it was), but those most likely to become more productive after the move were either veterans of corporate transfers or did not have to spend time in temporary housing.

According to the survey, the typical transferee is a young man who is married and has children and makes about $40,000 a year. The women who are transferred, and there are many fewer of them, tend to be single.

Extra Enticements

From the companies' point of view, the increase in the number of dual-career couples and the number of employees who will accept marching orders without question has made it tougher to find truly mobile managers. As a result, many companies are beginning to offer enticements such as parties, special perquisites and mortgage assistance.

Even with the help of such benefits, the stress associated with a move can take time to overcome. Laura Herring, president of Impact Group, a consulting firm that focuses on relocation, said it often takes at least 18 months for an employee and his or her family to get over the stress having moved.

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