The tradition of Thanksgiving

Once a year, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November. Celebrations include spending time with friends and family, eating turkey and pumpkin pie and watching or playing football.

Most cities across the U.S celebrate Thanksgiving by holding a parade; the most well known of these is the New York City Macy's parade which lasts 3 hours and is shown on television.

The celebration of Thanksgiving was originally a feast to give thanks for the previous harvest which dates back to the 17th century. It was celebrated on different dates across the country until 1789 when George Washington declared the first national Thanksgiving Day.

The following infographic, created by illustrates Thanksgiving in numbers and gives an interesting insight into this holiday.

Relocation policy - key factor in the success of a company's relocation program

According to Worldwide ERC, US companies alone spend $12.2 billion each year on corporate relocations. Companies that relocate or plan to relocate a large number of employees may find that putting in place a relocation policy is essential.

Each company's relocation policy can be different as it is tailored to suit the needs of the firm and their employees. This written policy serves as a foundation for each aspect of the relocation as it outlines the protocol to be used, the benefits offered, the different relocation packages provided, the partners used to assist and the people to contact at each step.

Relocating employees can cost upwards of $25,000 per employee and this cost can increase dramatically depending on the employee's position, family size etc. Despite this cost, it can sometimes be more cost effective to relocate existing employees rather than recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training a new employee.

In the case of relocating existing employees instead of new hires, businesses can continue operating as usual as the employees do not need training in order to start working efficiently. However, the transition to a new location can still be stressful for transferees and can therefore affect their productivity. In order to ensure that productivity levels stay high, having a good relocation policy that addresses all of the transferees needs inside as well as outside of the workplace is key.

Upcoming relocations can be daunting for employees; they therefore have many questions they require answers to regarding their move. Human Resources teams are often the ones these questions are directed at; a clearly set relocation policy therefore saves the HR department time, as it informs employees of what to expect during their relocation and reduces the need to answer so many questions.

Developing a relocation policy is therefore key to making corporate expansion run more smoothly, however the goals and benefits of the policy need to be fully defined before its implementation. 

Choosing the right relocation policy: Lump sum or Allowance plans?

When relocating employees, sometimes it can be difficult to decide which type of relocation policy should be used. Lump sum is one of the most popular relocation expense reimbursement methods as it is easy for the employer and gives the employee flexibility, however there are other methods that can be good alternatives.

A lump sum is a set amount of money that the company provides to their relocating employee. The amount is calculated by the company then given to the employee who can use it as they see fit for their relocation needs. The employee is not obliged to use the entire amount or even any on their relocation despite it being provided for this reason and can keep the money left over. Some relocating employees therefore attempt to spend as little as possible on their relocation in order to keep as much of the lump sum as possible. 

An alternative to traditional lump sum packages are capped allowance plans. These plans are similar to the previously mentionned package however in this case the company sets a maximum amount that the employee can spend and often dictates what the money can be spent on. COntrary to the traditional lump sum packages, should the employee not reach the maximum amount set, they do not usually get to keep the remaining money. This method can be more cost-effective for the company, however it can also lead to the employee having to pay relocations expenses out of pocket in case of overspending.

A flexible allowance plan can prevent this issue from occuring. By breaking down the different expenses into categories and assigning a maximum amount for each, the transferee can cherry pick which categories they need to use. This method provides a guideline for employees as they can visualize the different necessary expenses in their relocation.

Each method of reimbursement has its pros and cons and the choice of package depends on the company and the relocating employees profiles. Lump sum packages offer the employee more freedom, however they can be less cost-effective for the company and can lead the transferee to confusion as there is no structure. Allowance plans can save the company money however they are not always well suited to every employee. Flexible allowance plans allow transferees to tailor their relocation budget to suit their individual needs and in some cases can therefore be the most attractive to companies and employees alike.  

Source: Urbanbound



Trailing spouses: an underestimated factor in a relocation's success

According to Alceis Global Nomads, Human ressources departments often underestimate the importance of the trailing spouse in the success of a relocation assignment.

Companies that wish to send their employees abroad now need to take into account the career of their employee but also the career of the employee's spouse. More and more companies are working to find a way for the spouse's transition to another country to be a smooth as possible. Some even reach out to head hunters in order for the spouse to find work in the destination country. According to research by Alceis, in France only 30% of expatriate spouses state not having had any assistance before leaving home, which shows that more and more companies are taking into account the importance of their employees' spouses. 

However, other factors are often overlooked by human resources departments. Finding work in the destination country is not the only factor in the spouse's happiness and therefore the overall success of the mission. Despite most expatriates being excited to venture abroad, they often do not realise how much of a change of lifestyle it can be and that it can be lonely and language barriers can cause issues.

The trailing spouse should also be a priority for companies at the same level as their employee as a relocation can depend on them. The spouse is often the assignees main support and makes sure that everyone in the family is settling in well in the destination country. Therefore if the spouse's needs are not taken into account and they are unhappy in the destination country, this can affect the assignee and the relocation mission can be cut short.

At Expat US, we work to ensure that the relocation of employees goes smoothly and that the entire family is satisfied in their new home. Should you wish to learn more about the services we provide to companies and their employees, please do not hesitate to contact us.



Source: Les Echos Business


What is Labor Day?

For most people in the United States, Memorial day marks the start of the summer with Labor Day marking its end. This holiday is a national holiday, which also means a day off for most employees.

However, Labor day is not just a reason for a day off. It is a day set aside to pay tribute to men and women who work. It has been celebrated officially in North America since 1894.

This holiday was originally created by labor unions who celebrated the first labor days back in the 19th century. Most historians credit Peter McGuire, who was general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, with the idea of a special day to honour workers.

Labor day parades occur across the United States and Canada with the first parade occurring on September 5th 1882 in New York City. Labor day is celebrated on the first Monday of September each year as this date is halfway between Independance Day and Thanksgiving.

Here at Expat US we hope you all have a great Labor day weekend and enjoy the last of the summer! 

Renting in New York City

According to Zumper's National rent report, New York City's rental market is the second most expensive  in the United States, beaten only by San Francisco. From March to April 2015, Median rents in New York city for a one bedroom apartment increased 3.3% to $3,100.

The most expensive neighborhoods in Manhattan are Chelsea, Tribeca and Flatiron, while better deals can be found in Harlem and the Lower East side.

The following map, created by Zumper, shows a breakdown of the different median rent for 1 bedroom  apartments in neighborhoods in Manhattan. 



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