In today's competitive job market, attracting and retaining top talents is crucial for the success of companies. Besides the recruitment of freelancers one effective strategy for organizations is offering relocation assistance to new employees coming from foreign countries.
By providing support for professionals moving to another country, companies can not only overcome talent shortages but also enhance their reputation as employers of choice.
But what do companies need to consider offering relocation assistance? To answer that question, we spoke to Tia Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Expath. Expath supports startups and tech companies with global mobility and language training services. With their assistance, thousands of expats were able to relocate to Germany successfully.
In the conversation about relocation assistance, Tia gives helpful tips on the following points:
- Advantages of offering relocation assistance
- Benefits that companies should provide to ease the arrival of employees
- Time Frames and Costs When Hiring Outside the EU
- Resources for Visa Issues and Immigration Regulations
- Why managing expectations is key to successful long-term integration
- Challenges when employing foreign professionals
Advantages of offering relocation assistance
According to a study of the German Startups Association, finding well-educated people is the biggest hurdle for start-ups in Germany. This slows down growth – and companies fear for their innovation power. Providing relocation assistance to new employees offers several advantages for companies:
- It allows organizations to attract highly skilled professionals from abroad who may possess specialized knowledge and experience. This influx of talent can help to close the skill gap and contribute to the company's growth and innovation.
- By offering relocation assistance, companies can establish themselves as attractive employers, which leads to higher retention rates and happier employees.
- Embracing a workforce with professionals from different backgrounds fosters a diverse work environment, enabling fresh perspectives and creative problem-solving. (By the way: In our article The Power of Diversity, you can learn more about the advantages of a diverse workforce.)
Benefits that companies should provide to ease the arrival of employees
In order to attract international applicants and to enable a smooth transition for new employees, companies should offer certain services:
The most important support besides the actual Visa application, according to Tia, is to provide accommodation possibilities for new staff: “To offer a short term furnished apartment is really, really essential to your new hires because they need a secure place where they can register their address and they can feel safe. And it really helps with retention because when people do feel that they have been able to settle in well, they pay it back with good performance at work.”
Paying a Relocation Bonus
In addition, the company should think about paying a relocation bonus. Relocation allowances or reimbursements for expenses incurred during the move can alleviate financial burdens.
Access to Language Courses and Communities
It is essential to connect new employees to local communities and social networks to foster a sense of belonging and accelerate their integration into the company culture. Language and cultural training programs can help foreign professionals integrate into their local community and work effectively.
Digital Onboarding Process
All essential information should be provided within a digital onboarding process accessible from the phone, allowing employees to have all the necessary information at their fingertips whenever they require it.
Time Frames and Costs When Hiring Outside the EU
Hiring professionals outside the EU can be time consuming and expensive depending on the nationality of the applicants. “On average in Germany, we know it takes 84 days from the time you get the contract or start to do the visa process until you actually hold the visa in your hands. But the variation is really big ...", Tia says.
In addition to the relocation bonus and salary, companies should consider the following costs: The actual fee to the German government for getting a visa and a work permit for the employee is, compared to some other countries, very affordable. The costs are estimated to be €400. “If you want to, you can book on top the fast-track procedure for skilled workers, at least in Berlin, for €411 per adult person ...", adds Tia.
Resources for Visa Issues and Immigration Regulations
Companies seeking advice on visa issues and immigration regulations can find support from various sources. Local immigration authorities and government websites provide up-to-date information on visa requirements and processes. For Germany you can find more information here: \
- Make it in Germany (a service of the the federal government)
- Federal Foreign Office of Germany
Companies like Expath or specialized law firms can facilitate the process and can offer expert advice and assistance throughout the visa application process.
Why managing expectations is key to successful long-term integration
Tia strongly recommends that expectation management should be prioritized. The company must clearly communicate what the new employee can expect when moving. Moving to a different location can be a daunting experience, especially when new hiresrealize that the cost of living may be significantly higher than expected.
“For example, as an employer you can no longer advertise Berlin as a location with low rents. Because there is a real housing crisis here.”, says Tia.
It is essential for companies to communicate openly and transparently with their employees about the potential challenges they may face, including financial considerations. By setting realistic expectations from the outset, companies can help employees to prepare mentally and financially for their new environment. As a result, employees are more committed to their new city and the company.
Challenges when employing foreign professionals
Besides the areas of action of companies, there are some responsibilities that politicians should take on, says Tia. To facilitate the hiring of international workers in Germany, political improvements should focus on several key areas. Firstly, there is a need for more uniform and understandable information regarding immigration and visas. Clear and centralized resources would streamline the process for companies and employees. Secondly, Germany should prioritize digitalization in its immigration procedures to enhance efficiency, transparency, and optimize communication.
Additionally, addressing the shortage of flats and kindergarten places is essential, particularly in large cities where it is often challenging for families to secure spots. Increasing the availability of kindergarten places would not only support working parents but also attract international talent by providing a family-friendly environment.
Collaborative efforts between government institutions, industry associations, and businesses can drive policy reforms in these areas. And in Germany, the first reforms are already underway. By making improvements in information accessibility, digitalization, and expanding infrastructure, Germany can become a more attractive and competitive destination for international talents. In order to counter the war of talent, companies should gain a real competitive edge by offering relocation assistance now!