A few months ago, I relocated from [one part of the country to another]. My company paid for the move because most of my team members were in the other location. It was my decision to move. However, now that I'm here, I want to move back. I'm miserable (high property taxes, no social life, corporate office environment, the climate ). My immediate manager also moved here and wants to move back as well.
Our director is a "by-the-books" kind of guy. He will ask us to repay the relocation funds and use our personal funds to move back. I don't have an issue with this, but I need to come up with valid business reasons for moving again. I'm concerned it will look like I don't make sound decisions. I can't go in and state that I'm just miserable living here. But being miserable isn't going to make me a very productive employee either. Do you have any suggestions?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Heather Faire Vice President, Human Resources, Coca-Cola
You are not alone. Many people experience stress and remorse shortly after a significant, life changing event. Making a decision in the early stage of change could be perceived as poor judgment. Remind yourself of the reasons you wanted to move in the first place and give yourself more time to acclimate. For example, a year might provide more reasonable time to get comfortable in your new work environment, meet new friends with whom you can spend time and explore new outdoor activities in a new climate. Perhaps a request for a raise could help mitigate the higher taxes. With more time, you may find happiness in your new location.
If after more time, you still feel miserable, be honest with the director and admit you made a mistake. Explain that you allowed ample time to make the best of your move, but you want to relocate back. Confirm that you fully expect to repay the relocation expenses and pay for your return. Provide a plan, showing how you will manage and develop your team equally as well from a remote location. Doing this would demonstrate the willingness to try to overcome difficult situations, the humility to admit mistakes and learn from them, as well as the ability to formulate a plan to recover.
If you believe giving yourself more time is not a viable option, you can always conduct a new job search with an employer that will hire you to work in your original location.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Colleen Clarke Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto
Companies are in the business of making money, bottom line. If your energy and production output is higher in Location A than in Location B, and two of you want to move back, management might not be overjoyed for the disturbance, but maybe they won't care either. Can you make the case you will give the company higher returns in Location A?
It is interesting to note that all the reasons you don't like Location B are factors that would have been very evident before you chose to move. Ergo, are you sure you can't acclimatize, reframe and stick it out for at least a year? Everyone is entitled to change their mind about life decisions, so being concerned about being an unsound decision maker might be a bit exaggerated. Not being flexible, creative, open-minded, tenacious and resilient might be a red flag and a cause for concern though.
As to what to say to management, until you have some business time behind you – and four months is not enough in which to gauge – you don't have a viable defence for moving, unless there is already a negative difference in your production. No one wants an unhappy employee, but we choose our happiness.
The first year in any city is the toughest. Expand your mind, broaden your interests, travel more, join clubs and shift your attitude, for a year and two weeks, then think about returning.
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