SOURCE: Cartus

Cartus

June 28, 2012 10:51 ET

Cartus Presents Its 2012 Trends in Global Relocation Survey

57 Percent of Companies Expect to Transfer More Employees in Next Two Years While Tightening Expatriate Benefits and Moving to Alternative, Temporary Assignments; Employees More Likely to Accept a Relocation Assignment for Career Advancement Rather Than Compensation

DANBURY, CT--(Marketwire - Jun 28, 2012) -  Despite a challenging global economy, 57 percent of multinational companies expect to increase the number of employees they transfer this year and next, according to the 2012 Trends in Global Relocation Survey released today by Cartus Corporation. Cartus is a leading provider of global relocation services, moving employees into and out of over 165 countries around the world and assisting in more than 153,000 relocations during 2011.

Cartus conducted its analysis of worldwide relocation trends during the first quarter of 2012. The survey contained 111 questions that were answered by 122 multinational firms based in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC, and representing all major industries. On average, each respondent company has approximately 49,500 employees throughout the world and transfers more than 300 employees annually.

When asked, "How do you expect your organization's mobility activity to change over the next two years?" 57 percent of respondents expect assignment activity to increase, 37 percent expect it to stay about the same, and 6 percent of firms surveyed envision decreasing their number of global transferees.

"Our global trends survey uncovered two key issues behind the anticipated increase in corporate relocation activity: a need for companies to support their planned expansion into emerging markets, and a need to fill the void in available local talent in those markets," said Matt Spinolo, executive vice president of Cartus.

Among the more surprising findings of the Trends in Global Relocation study is that despite the respondents anticipated increase in relocation volume, companies are changing the way they deploy employees. Not only are firms moving away from traditional, long-term assignments into more alternative, temporary forms, but they are also trimming benefits and somewhat reducing assignment durations.

Commenting on the finding of companies' reduction of assignment benefits, Spinolo said, "The survey also documented the trend toward benefit 'right sizing' which, for many companies, has been driven by years of a tough economic climate that have made them smarter and more targeted in their assignment programs." Although this pertains to all relocation assignment forms, it is most notable in long-term assignments, where approximately half (51 percent) of companies said they will most likely alter their policies associated with long-term assignment during the next two years.

Meanwhile, employees are also focusing more on their careers when it comes to deciding to accept a job transfer. The survey found that the No. 1 reason (at 90 percent) employees accept job transfers is "career development" over "attractive compensation." Survey respondents ranked compensation a distant second on the list at 35 percent. 

"The Trends in Global Relocation Survey provides a worldwide snapshot and inside look at the numerous challenges facing multinational corporations and their transferring employees," said William Sheridan, vice president of the National Foreign Trade Council. "The survey helps our entire industry stay abreast of global relocation trends and is a tremendous tool for companies because it provides a unique set of data that helps them review their present and planned activities in the context of other multinational firms' plans."

Some of the key findings of the survey include:

  • Overall compliance -- This was ranked as the issue of greatest concern to companies in terms of its future impact on their organizations. Companies' overall compliance concerns typically encompass tax, immigration, compensation, and benefits challenges involved with moving assignees globally.

  • Controlling costs -- Sixty-one (61) percent of companies reported an increased focus on controlling costs and more tightly managing the overall relocation function; while fairly high, this number nevertheless represents a decrease from the 76 percent of companies that reported an increase in controlling costs in 2010.

  • Emerging markets -- Expansion into emerging markets was ranked as the leading reason for increased relocation activity over the past two years. Meanwhile, the locations to which companies are sending their employees are increasing; respondents named 41 separate countries among their individual top three most frequent relocation destinations, and the number swelled to 74 when companies were asked about new locations to which they are sending their people.

  • Permanent transfers growing -- As another strategy to help control costs and better position themselves, the survey showed that companies are moving more employees on permanent transfers, with local pay and benefits. The five countries that received the greatest increase in permanent transfers over the past two years are: the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Switzerland, and China.

Commenting on these trends, Spinolo said, "The focus on compliance is clearly being complicated by the explosion in emerging markets, where navigating regulations in the key areas of tax, compensation, and immigration can be incredibly complex. Simultaneously, these issues are posing new questions for how companies handle their growing populations of 'global nomads' -- an emerging group of transferees who move so regularly, and so repeatedly, that they never return 'home' and become career expatriates."

Today's Assignee: More Experienced, Older, More Likely to Have Partner
The profile of today's assignee is shifting from younger, single employees who were more prevalent just two years ago. Companies surveyed this year said that 48 percent of their transferees would most likely be 40 years old or older -- a 37 percent increase compared with 2010.

Likewise, the percentage of transferees who were married/with partner and accompanied rose sharply to 49 percent -- a 29 percent increase from 2010's survey.

Countries Posing the Biggest Challenges - BRICS Countries

Over the next two years, multinational companies believe these five emerging-economy countries, also known as the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), are poised to present the biggest challenges for assignees (in rank order based on responses below):

1. China
2. India
3. Brazil
4. Russia
5. South Africa

Other Key Trends

  • The top three family issues that kept employees from accepting a new relocation assignment were: difficulty finding spouse/partner employment opportunities (63 percent), schooling availability or quality (46 percent), and lack of familiarity with the local language (25 percent).

  • Although the cost of a failed assignment is very high, there has not been an overwhelming acceptance or use of assessment tools to designate the best employees for assignments. However, this trend may be changing: although fewer than 20 percent of companies reported using such a tool, 37% indicate they are considering one.

About the 2012 Trends in Global Relocation Survey
Cartus first published its Trends in Global Relocation Survey in 2002. The survey provides insights into the evolving issues multinational companies and their employees face. To receive a complimentary copy of the 2012 Trends in Global Relocation Survey, go to: https://cartusmoves.com/research. The following are sponsors of the 2012 Global Trends Survey: in the Americas, The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) -- a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York; in EMEA, Re:locate, a British publication and website for mobility and HR professionals, and Mondissimo, a global mobility organization based in Paris, France; and in Asia, China Staff magazine, published by CCH, a member of WK Law & Business; and the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI), an organization of human resources management personnel interested in all facets of HR.

About Cartus
Cartus provides trusted guidance to organizations of all types and sizes that require global relocation solutions. In 2011, Cartus served over 70 percent of the Fortune 50. We provide service in more than 165 countries, applying our more than half century of experience to help our clients with their mobility, outsourcing, consulting, and language and intercultural training needs. Cartus is part of Realogy Corporation -- a global provider of real estate and relocation services. To find out how our greater experience, reach, and hands-on guidance can help your company, visit www.cartus.com and www.pitchengine.com/cartus; read our blog at www.cartusblog.com; or click www.realogy.com for more information.

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