Relocating is a daunting prospect for anyone, but when both parents work, the upheaval can be traumatic, requiring the "trailing" spouse to help find not just a new house, caregiver and doctors, but also a new job.
With the economy improving, more two-career couples are resisting relocation. As a result, a growing number of employers now offer an array of benefits to make moving less of a burden - and more enticing.In addition to the standard housing-related perks - such as covering the fees connected with selling and buying a home - about half of U.S. employers now provide spouses with job-hunting assistance, according to the Employee Relocation Council, a Washington, D.C., group. Some employers help relocating families find day care, schools, even elder-care services. "It saved me an incredible amount of time and stress," says Pamela Shields, a paralegal and mother of two living in Marlborough, Mass. Shields has moved four times in the past six years because of her husband's job at Johnson & Johnson. Each time, J&J has paid the Impact Group, a St. Louis-based relocation services firm, to help Shields recreate her life.
Last summer, when the Shields moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts, Pamela received a report on roughly 25 nearby law firms that were looking for paralegals; she narrowed down the list to four contenders, and received job offers from all of them. Her relocation counselor also found four local preschool possibilities.
But relocation benefits are often underutilized. "Many people don't realize that companies offer these services, because the concept is so new," says Laura Herring, Impact president.