However, the research by international health insurer AXA, conducted among 250 multi-national firms headquartered in eight different countries and 372 expat workers across 11 markets, reveals that while employers see international working as key, their staff don’t necessarily want to move permanently to another country. Three-quarters of employers surveyed said there is a trend for staff to accept jobs based abroad while they continue to live at home. They become international commuters.
More than a third of firms said staff increasingly want to work abroad on short-term contracts and commute from their home country, with 27% saying that staff don’t want to relocate permanently.
The rewards for working internationally do, however, appear to make the commute or relocation worth the effort. Most of those working on international assignments said they took global placements to gain higher pay and benefits, with 47% saying they took roles to gain accelerated career development and improve their skills.
Two-fifths of companies surveyed said they tend to promote staff at the end of their assignments and 40% also said they work with staff to find a new role within the country they are working in which utilises the local knowledge they have built up.
However, companies are having to work hard to get the right talent with 46% of human resources directors saying finding the right people is the key challenge they face.
The need to get the right people for international assignments may partly explain why big businesses are willing to be more flexible with staff around how they structure international assignments and pay and benefits packages but the survey reveals that these postings come at a price for employers.
On average, the firms surveyed said it cost them $50,267 over and above an employee’s base salary for each staff member they have working abroad, with three-fifths of employers saying pressure to manage international assignment costs has increased in the past five years.
When it comes to pay and benefits the survey reveals that staff most want to have accommodation paid for, followed by international health insurance (covering more than one country) and income protection.
Three-quarters of the international workers questioned said they get health insurance paid for by their company, with more than two-thirds of expat workers saying they rely on health insurance to cover their health needs while they are abroad.