How can we better understand the stress of relocation?

How can we better understand the stress of relocation?

Relocation is often stressful, but what’s at the heart of this stress? Jon Harman, global account manager at CORT Destination Services, looks at some of the research in this Relo Tip Tuesday.


Complete transcript: “Hi my name is Jon Harman with CORT, we’re a supplier partner for Plus, and I’m here today to explore just how stressful is relocation.

So if you’ve worked in mobility at all, you’ve probably heard people say moving is one of life’s most stressful events. And at one point I became curious about who are these people that were ranking life’s stressful events and how did they come to that conclusion? And I looked around and I came upon some research from the late 1960s by two gentlemen, Richard Rahe and Thomas Holmes. And what they did was look at the medical records of thousands of patients and interview them when they were in the hospital to try to determine what was going on in their life in the year before they came ill, and then they used those findings to rank stressful events in life.

What Holmes and Rahe did was they created a scale, it’s called the Social Readjustment Scale, where they listed all these different life events and gave them point totals for how likely they were to impact your health. So at the very top of the scale is death of a spouse and you go down and there are things like changes in your home situation or kids moving out of the house to go to college. Even positive things like a wedding, which can be a source of stress as you plan it, were on the scale. And what you’re supposed to do is go through the scale, tick everything that’s been impacting you in the last year, and then add up your aggregate score, which will tell you how likely you are to become ill in the not-too-distant future from a stress-related disease.

So what’s interesting is ‘moving’ actually doesn’t appear on the Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Scale. But, if you go through the list and you add up all the different elements that are in play when you’re moving, you actually get a really high score that puts you in the ‘good likelihood of getting sick in the not-too-distant future’ scale. So it turns out that moving really is one of life’s most stressful events.

And so as relocation professionals, it’s on us to keep that in mind. While we might handle dozens or even hundreds of moves in a year, for that individual assignee and their family, it’s a significant challenge. What we’re asking when we ask somebody to pack up and move halfway across the country or halfway across the world for work is really a lot. It puts that family in a very challenging situation but the flipside of that is as relocation professionals, we have a real opportunity to have a positive impact on people in one of the most challenging circumstances of their lives. Thank you.”

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