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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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News: employers to ramp up short- and long-term overseas assignments in 2013


Companies across the globe will increase the number of short-term and long-term assignments in 2013, focusing on China, Brazil, Australia, the UK and the US.

The increase will come from a desire to provide specific technical skills not available locally (47 percent), to provide career management/leadership development (43 percent), to ensure knowledge transfer (41 percent), to fulfill specific project needs (39 percent) and to provide specific managerial skills not available locally (38 percent).

Just two percent of multinationals track the ROI from their mobility programmes. Sixty-five percent of firms have no specific tools to track and manage overseas assignments, other than basic tools like Microsoft Excel. European employers tend to use an in-house application or tool (16 percent), while American employees will use external suppliers (25 percent).

The duration of assignments is decreasing, with long-term assignments averaging two years and ten months. The average age of long-term assignees is between 35 and 55. Short-term assignments average four months, with the maximum average at 13 months. Short-term assignees tend to be younger overall.

Women make up 13 percent of international assignments, up three percent since 2010. Thirty-nine percent of companies say individuals with international experience are promoted more quickly.

Major obstacles to mobility identified continue to include family issues, such as concerns over schools and education, as well as package attractiveness and the partner’s established career at home.

This information came from Mercer’s Worldwide International Assignments Policies and Practices report, which tracks the latest trends in international assignment program management and policies.

Anne Rossier-Renaud, Principal in Mercer’s Global Mobility business, said: “Relatively low pay increases in some regions and pressure to attract and retain talent have spurred many companies to embrace a wider range of global mobility strategies to incentivise their high performers. Mobility and HR directors now face great complexity in the number and type of international assignments that need managing.”

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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