We’ve heard it many times: It’s tough to hire for tech talent. While this sector is a major employer, making up almost 10% of all US jobs, 86% of hiring managers and recruiters say it’s hard to fill these roles.
To attract scarce talent, many tech companies offer increasingly unique benefits, such as on-site meals, lavish campuses and even subsidized fertility treatments for employees. But there’s another powerful perk that gets less attention: voluntary relocation, wherein existing employees are allowed to transfer offices or new employees are enticed to move for the job.
After all, tech talent is needed beyond Silicon Valley — the Indeed Hiring Lab recently reported that tech hot spots are popping up in other parts of the country, in places such as Washington DC, Baltimore and Raleigh, North Carolina. Some of the largest players in the game are expanding beyond their West Coast headquarters, with Amazon opening its HQ2 sites on the East Coast and Apple planning for an Austin, Texas, campus.
Providing opportunities for employees to relocate can be a powerful retention tool, while offering relocation benefits can help you attract top talent from anywhere in the country. But just how willing are people to uproot themselves for their jobs? To find out, Indeed conducted a survey of over 1,000 tech workers in the US and learned that most of them would happily take the leap.
Most tech workers are open to a move
It turns out that relocation is nothing new to the tech workers we surveyed: Over half (57%) of respondents report having moved for a new job in the past, while a whopping 80% say they’ve considered moving for work at some point.
More men (60%) than women (53%) have actually made the move, but equal numbers have considered it. And the vast majority of respondents between ages 25 and 34 have considered moving to a new city for work, with nearly nine out of 10 (87%) having done so.
So what makes people want to move? Almost two-thirds (65%) of those who have considered it say they were tempted by better career opportunities. Others report simply wanting a change (44%) or a fresh start (40%), followed by lower costs of living elsewhere (33%).
Almost half of companies offer relocation, and most workers are interested in moving
Offering voluntary relocation is a common practice: Almost half (49%) of tech workers report working for companies that do so. One-third (34%) of respondents’ companies do not offer relocation, while 17% percent of respondents are unsure.
When asked if they would move if their company offered a voluntary relocation option, one-third (33%) of employees say “yes, definitely.” Just over half (51%) say “yes, but it depends where.” Among tech workers whose companies already offer relocation, 46% report being “very likely” to move, and another 34% say moving is “somewhat likely.”
The Generation Xers in our survey (respondents age 45 to 54) are less gung-ho about moving than younger generations: Only 18% of Gen Xers would “definitely” move, compared to 41% of the 35-to-44 age group and 42% of millennials (age 25 to 34). However, Gen Xers are the most likely (65%) of any age group to respond “yes, but it depends where.” In other words, this group may be picky about location, but they’ll happily relocate to a place they like.
Top reasons for relocating: new career opportunities and a change in scenery
For tech employees interested in relocating, the most common reason is to pursue career opportunities — though this is slightly more of a factor for men (54%) than for women (50%). Another driver behind moving is the desire for a change of environment, which is the most appealing factor for women (reported by 54%, compared to 47% of men). Moving to an area with a lower cost of living (43%) is the third-most common reason for considering relocation among respondents of both genders.
When it comes to keeping people in place, family and friends are the strongest pull, with 56% of respondents saying this prevents them from relocating. In fact, remaining close to loved ones is cited as the top reason not to move across all age groups — debunking the stereotype that young people want to get away from their families. Another significant factor preventing people from relocating is higher cost of living elsewhere (34%).
For companies considering a relocation policy, reimbursing moving costs will make employees more likely to get on board. Tech workers say this would be the most motivating factor were their companies to suggest relocation (cited by 66%). This is followed by the offer of a desirable location (66%) and of a promotion in the new office (56%).
Finally, companies offering relocation must carefully consider whether to support employees moving abroad. The vast majority of tech workers (89%) say they would rather relocate within the US, compared to 12% who would prefer to move overseas.
Based on our survey, most tech workers are open to relocation. This is great news for employers wanting to attract new talent because it means you don’t have to limit your talent search to one geographic area. You may come across your ideal candidate in Connecticut and discover they’ve been hoping a new opportunity would draw them to the Bay Area.
Supporting relocation is also a great tool for retaining the tech employees you already have. A top-performing employee in your Seattle office may be longing to ditch the expensive big-city lifestyle and move closer to family in Arizona. By offering an incentive, such as reimbursing moving costs, you can further encourage top talent to stay with your organization.