In spite of global economic malaise, multinational companies increase pace of international assignments, according to the just-released 2012 Global Relocation Trends Survey report, published by Brookfield Global Relocation Services.
In the 2012 Global Relocation Trends Survey report, companies reporting growth in international assignee populations jumped nearly 50 percent from 2011 and well beyond what has been reported in Brookfield Global Relocation Services’ last three annual trends reports. This year’s results indicate a return to activity levels not seen since 2007 suggesting that, regardless of regional economic woes, multinational corporations are mobilizing workers to fill skills gaps and develop talent, especially in emerging and developing markets.
Notably, assignment activity outside the headquarter country location continued to rise hitting 46 percent, an all time high, and another sign that companies are diversifying their sources for talent and looking farther afield for new market opportunities. Many new locations were cited as top destinations for international assignments including Malaysia, Spain, Indonesia, Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Colombia.
“In last year’s survey, we were encouraged by the optimism companies showed in predicting a return to positive international assignment growth; but with the prolonged weakness in the U.S. economy and the escalating sovereign debt crisis in some European countries, we were doubtful of that forecast coming true, but it has,” said Scott Sullivan, executive vice president of Brookfield Global Relocation Services, “The significant increase in actual assignments and the optimism for continued growth for 2012 suggest that corporations have adjusted to these unstable environmental conditions and are focused again on the future and growing their businesses internationally.”
The Right Fit
Finding the right talent topped cost as the most common assignment management challenge faced by companies, and was cited as the second most important factor for success in the global marketplace. Even with the high general unemployment rates in many countries, the lack of technical and management skills remain the top reasons for relocating employees.
Additionally, employees with international work experience are more highly valued.
- 21 percent of all employees had previous international assignee experience (significantly higher than 12 percent in the 2011 report)
- a 4 percent increase in the 20-29 year-old assignee demographic points to increased investment in developmental assignments for young, high potential employees
- building international management expertise was the third most important assignment objective reported
- 40 percent of the respondents felt that employees with international work experience get promoted faster than employees without it.
The Right Formula
This year’s survey also shed light on the ongoing struggle justifying costs and how to quantify return-on-investment (ROI). While there is a greater emphasis on measurements, none of the respondents rated their companies’ ROI as excellent; 22 percent rated their companies’ international assignment ROI as very good; 22 percent as good; 45 percent as fair; and 11 percent as poor. These are the lowest ROI ratings in the history of this report.
The United States and China held their positions as the top destinations for international assignments, with 20 percent of respondents listing the United States and 14 percent listing China as the top destination. Historically the United States, China and the United Kingdom, when combined as the top three destinations, represented 77 percent of the destinations. Now, however, when combined, they represent only 44 percent of the respondents’ top destinations, indicating that companies are sending international assignees to a more diverse group of countries than ever before.
A total of 63 countries were listed by this year’s respondents as emerging destinations for them, more than three times the number in any other year. As expected, Brazil, Russia, India and China are among the top emerging locations in this year’s report. While most of these countries can no longer be considered strictly emerging for businesses, most are still considered emerging as locations for international assignments.
“As businesses continue to expand into more countries, or even more remote locations in relatively more established countries, second and third tier cities in China for example, the future of international assignment success will depend on the combination of individually tailored support and a more adaptable, flexible and qualified assignee” remarked Sullivan.
About the Survey
The 2012 Global Relocation Trends Survey report is the 17th report issued by Brookfield Global Relocation Services. Research for this report was compiled from 123 companies around the world; combined, these firms manage a worldwide employee population of 6.9 million. As it does each year, the newly released survey paints a comprehensive picture of evolving trends and emerging issues facing companies of all sizes that rely on an internationally mobile workforce. “The survey consists of 126 questions and provides the most comprehensive data set and trend analytics available” comments Sullivan. “This information allows us to compare, contrast and provide a baseline that’s unique to the relocation industry.”
For more information, go to http://www.brookfieldgrs.com.