Moving Fallout: The Risk to New Hires

Many employers are oblivious to the behind the scenes challenges that newly relocated employees may be facing.  New hires and transfers are often reluctant to disclose the challenges they are dealing with, or the subsequent stress it triggers, to their employers.  As the effects of relocation stress can be profound and can spill over into the workplace, it is important for employers to be cognizant of the potential for negative consequences that new employees may be experiencing…


Negative effects linked with Relocation Stress

The emotional, cognitive and physical effects resulting from the stress of moving (Relo-Stress, for short) are as varied as any other type of stressful life event.  Psychological symptoms following the stress of relocation have been reported to include depression, anxiety, isolation, withdrawal, difficulty focusing and concentrating, fearfulness, changes in sleeping habits, changes in eating habits, anger, frustration, crying for no reason, irritability, low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, a sense of hopelessness, feelings of low personal control, and loneliness, among others.

Physiological symptoms linked with the stress of moving have been reported to include chest pains, headaches, backaches, migraines, digestive problems, ulcers, menstrual problems, heart problems, dental problems, insomnia, weight gain/weight loss,  increased allergic reactions and asthma, vision problems, nightmares, increased injuries from accidents, including children’s burn accidents, increased colds and influenza, and increased problems resulting from pre-existing medical conditions, to name just a few.

Relocation stress has also been associated with a number of short-term behavioral changes that may lead to a strain on interpersonal relationships.  Reported behavioral changes have included withdrawal and social isolation, angry outbursts, argumentative behavior, crying, short temper, sexual dysfunction, an increase in pre-existing dysfunctional activities such as obsessive hand-washing or checking, compulsive shopping, or gambling, increased use of alcohol or other substances, increases in risk-taking behaviors such as speeding, and increases in forgetfulness and worrying, for example.

The symptoms associated with relocation stress have been shown in scientific studies to surface up to 18 months following the move.