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Using relocation to create a positive onboarding experience - Summer/Fall 2016
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By Vicki Bierlein, CMC, CRP, Director of Business Development for Stevens Worldwide Van Lines 

A traditional onboarding process for newly hired employees, regardless of the organization, will typically be described as tedious or even mind numbing. Because of the emphasis on company policy, paperwork and documentation, onboarding often carries with it a feeling of a bureaucratic obligation with very little impact on the organization as a whole. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

A Boston Consulting Group study revealed that of all 22 HR practices, the onboarding process has the second highest organizational impact (delivering on recruiting promises was first) in terms of revenue growth and profit margin. The top six are shown below². The study also revealed that when corporations have an effective onboarding process in place, corporate revenue growth is nearly double that of those companies that do not have an effective process.

Relocation needs to play a major role in your onboarding process and your aim should always be to create a positive experience for your newly hired physicians. This will make them more effective faster, ultimately leading to a stronger organization.

Onboarding should begin before your physician walks in the door
Your relocation policy needs to communicate the company culture as an element of the onboarding process. Don’t just tell your new physicians that you’re excited to have them join the company, show them.

“Making sure that your new hires have a positive relocation experience is of the highest priority, no matter what happens. If they have a negative experience when relocating, often times it will set the tone for their time in that role. Providing a positive experience for your new hires can make or break everything,” said Laura Screeney, Director of Physician Recruitment for NewYork-Presbyterian and President, Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR).

This idea applies to the vendors and companies that you work with as well. Essentially, they are a reflection of you; no different than if you were to personally recommend them to a friend.

Best practices for paying the relocation costs
Most elements of onboarding (such as paperwork, company values and processes) are standardized, yet often there is no specific relocation policy in place. The physician might be given a check as a moving allowance, but is then left to research, review and make decisions on the safest, least stressful way to move. In this scenario, it is difficult to know if the funds were sufficient and if the physician was satisfied with the outcome.

The average cost of relocating a family’s household goods in 2014 was $12,935³. Typically it will cost less to move a physician with few possessions than it does to move a physician with a large household, so this is where a direct billing policy with a cap can be beneficial as well as equitable. Rather than writing a check in equal amounts to every physician, the moving company can bill your organization up to a certain amount so your organization is only paying for the actual cost incurred. Not only does this eliminate the physician having to report and deduct moving expenses, it can be a great way to track and manage costs for your organization.

Another factor to consider is that a poorly executed move causes undue stress for the physician and reflects negatively on your organization. To raise the level of service, research and recommend  van lines you know and trust. The van line should reflect the values of your organization to help further the good will your new physician is feeling, and have a vested interest in the outcome of each relocation. Look for a van line that has been rated as a certified ProMover through the American Moving & Storage Association.

A simple moving program is easy to execute, it contributes to the well-being of your physician while in transition, and saves money for your organization.

Utilize mentors for new physicians
Mentorships help speed new hires into becoming productive employees, as it allows them one-on-one relationships with established employees within the organization. Corporations such as IBM, Qualcomm and Google all employ mentorship programs for varying amounts of time from 30 days to 12 months¹.

Another approach would be to set up your new hire with another employee who has recently moved to act as their mentor throughout relocating. 

When asked about the use of mentors at New York-Presbyterian, Laura Screeney weighed in, “if you’re new, I want to make sure that your mentor is relatable to you. I want to make sure that you both have something in common. It’s very difficult to mentor someone if you can’t connect on a personal level.”

Continually review your process
As with most processes, onboarding should be reviewed frequently and refined as needed. Survey your new hires who have gone through onboarding after 1 month, 6 months and 12 months and use those data to identify program strengths and weaknesses which you can use to adjust your process accordingly¹. If you can, benchmark what other physician recruiters are doing to help develop and advance your program.

“We review our onboarding process weekly and make alterations accordingly; usually small tweaks here and there. Our process is very fluid,” said Kelley Hekowczyk, Director of Physician Recruiting and Credentialing at the University of Colorado Health.

While it might be cumbersome to review your relocation policy on a frequent basis, you don’t have to do this alone. Partnering with a moving company for a review of your relocation policy is a great place to start. They have the industry knowledge to ensure that your policy is up to date and meets the needs of current workforce trends.

Onboarding plays a large determining factor in overall company health, both culturally and financially. The effectiveness of an organization’s onboarding process will impact an employee’s progression path and their likelihood of staying with the company. Additionally, the relocation policy that you utilize as a portion of your organization’s onboarding process will set the tone for your physicians’ time with the company. It’s best to make sure that it begins on a great note!

About the author

Vicki Bierlein has been working in the relocation industry for 23 years, earning both CMC© and CRP© credentials through Worldwide ERC.

While working with Stevens Worldwide Van Lines, Vicki spent nine years as the Lead Move Consultant and 12 years running a division of the global moving company. During that time she trained dozens of Junior Move Consultants and developed policies and procedures for move coordination all while overseeing a multitude of corporate client relationships.

Today, as Director of National Business Development, she works closely with new and existing corporate clients on relocation policy development to ensure they receive the best in value and in service while providing a superior relocation process for their transferees.

Sources Cited
1. Extreme Onboarding: How to WOW Your New Hires Rather Than Numb Them. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2016, from
2. Bauer, PhD, T. (2010). Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success. Retrieved June 7, 2016, from Society for Human Resource Management,
3. Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2016, from


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