Survey: Short-term Relocation Assignments Outpace Long-term

July 30, 2007 ( - Companies that relocate workers and their families overseas are more likely to offer some sort of cultural and language training than they were three years ago, according to a recent survey by Cartus, a mobility management and workforce development solutions provider.

The Emerging Trends in Global Mobility survey of 184 companies found that the U.S. kept its top spot as the most common destination for relocation assignments, but China ousted the U.K. from its second place spot and Germany replaced Singapore for fourth place.

“As companies respond to growing business opportunities, pressures to recruit and retain top global talent, and demands for regional flexibility, we can expect to see more people being sent to more and different destinations, and on shorter-term assignments, said John Arcario, executive vice president of Cartus, in a press release about the survey. We are seeing a truly new workforce being shaped by a global economy.

Short-term relocation assignments that have become more popular than long-term assignments are expected to increase over the next two years. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said short-term assignments were up over the last three years compared to 50% for long-term assignments.

The number of companies that are offering intercultural language training for workers’ families has increased over the last three years. Intercultural training was offered by 55% of organizations in 2007, up from 28% three years ago. Fifty-eight percent of companies offered language services for families, a boost from 30% in 2004 ).

The top three reasons identified for failed assignments are:

  • Family adjustment, 71%,
  • Assignee personal style, 48% and
  • Cultural differences, 40%.

Family or personal circumstances was cited almost twice as often (90%) for employees turning down relocation assignments as career concerns (48%) or compensation (46%).