U.S. Economy not Affecting Overseas Assignments

June 6, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Despite U.S. economic stress, the vast majority of multinational corporations surveyed by GMAC Global Relocation Services are optimistic about their global business outlook and have no plans to reduce overseas business assignments.

A news report from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) on GMAC’s annual Global Relocation Trends Survey said 68% of corporations are ramping up their employee assignment efforts, and of those, 95% say the number of employees transferred will increase or stay at the same level as in 2007. GMAC attributed the optimism to booming markets in China and the steady expansion of the European Union, the news report said.

Most respondents (58%) indicated they are cutting back on expenses for international assignments in response to economic conditions. Of those, 29% reported they are reducing policy offerings and financial incentives for relocating employees.

The most common reason for assignment refusal (89%) was family concerns, followed by spousal career concerns (62%). Family-related issues were also cited by 28% of corporations as the top reason for early returns from assignments.

The study found that expatriates often feel that the inconveniences caused by their assignments are not adequately appreciated by their companies, and many lack opportunities to parlay the experiences and skills they gain from the assignment into better positions within their companies. The annual turnover rate for expatriates on assignment is 25%, and it’s 27% for expatriates within one year of completing assignments.

Other Global Relocation Trends Survey findings, according to SHRM, include:

  • Nineteen percent of expatriates were women; the historical average is 15%.
  • Fifty percent of expatriates are 20 to 39 years old.
  • Sixty percent of expatriates are married, less than the 66% historical average. The percentage of married men (51%) is the lowest in the report's history.
  • Fifty one percent of expatriates have children accompanying them, matching the previous all-time low in the 2003/04 report; the historical average is 57%.
  • Spouses/partners accompanied 83% of expatriates, compared to the historical average of 85%.
  • Fifty four percent of spouses were employed before an assignment but not during it; 12% were employed during an assignment but not before; 20% were employed both before and during the assignment.
  • Fifty six percent of expatriates were relocated to/from the headquarters country, below the historical average of 65%.
  • The United States, China and United Kingdom are the most frequently cited locations for expatriate assignments.
  • China , India and Russia are the primary emerging destinations, and also were cited as the most challenging locations for administrators overseeing employee relocations.

The survey report can be ordered from here .