How Families Impact International Relocations

Corporate goals and employee support are often the focal points of international relocation management. However, there is a sobering fact that simply cannot be ignored: 70% of failed moves are a result of family issues.


This statistic from HR News shows the importance of spousal and family support during relocations. The family issues resulting in relocation failure are:

  1. the lack of job or career opportunities for the employee’s spouse (75% of couples are dual career) , and
  2. the inability of the employee’s family to settle in their new host country.

Uprooting your family to take a relocation opportunity is life-changing for everyone involved – the individual, their spouse and their family. If their family is unsettled or unhappy in the new location,  an assignee is more likely to give up their new role and return to their home country.

“Employers tend to focus on the job, however successful and productive relocations involve the family’s needs being taken care of,” says Barrie Gilmour, Director Client Experience at BTR International. ‘To optimise the chances of success, relocation management programmes must offer relevant, bespoke support looking after the well-being of the whole family.’

Post-pandemic, more employers and individuals are aware of and prioritising duty of care, driving greater demand for spousal and family support. DEI issues (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) are key. It’s important to understand how welcoming or challenging a country’s culture will be regarding certain demographics and communities, for example.

Women are under-represented in the global mobility space – only 20% of the global expatriate workforce is female. Family support is key to addressing this key diversity issue, enabling more female employees to consider international relocation opportunities.

International relocation is not child’s play

‘Relocation creates great upheaval to the whole family. This is even more impactful post-pandemic as children had less interaction and development during the Covid years,’ says Lucy Foster from relocation coaching company IMPACT Group. ‘This means that extra support and resources are needed. Children need to feel that they have some power and control, and child transition coaching is key to supporting them – to help them make their relocation their own.’

Lucy adds: ‘Relocations are rarely successful if families are unhappy. They need to feel validated and supported – shown appreciation for their sacrifice. One of our clients sends a letter from the CEO to the children of relocating employees, thanking them for letting their parent take on such an important job. This is what duty of care really means. It’s an essential service, not simply a box to tick.’

Everyone is unique

Key to the success of the entire family’s relocation is bespoke support. AT BTR, each relocation is supported with the utmost care and attention to detail. Pre-assignment conversations ensure that we listen to and address the hopes, concerns and queries of the relocating employee and their family. Removing uncertainty helps reduce the stress of a relocation for everyone involved.

Knowing the key issues and information involved enables truly agile assignee support to be created, combining duty of care and support services adapted to the requirements of the assignee, their family and the location involved.

Do you manage your organisation’s workforce mobility programme?

Would you like to increase relocation success rates?

Talk to the friendly experts at BTR about spousal and family support during international relocations. The positive impact this offers is amazing. Arrange an initial discussion without obligation. 

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