The True Cost of a Failed International Assignment: New Report Highlights Potential USD1.25 million Cost Per Assignee

International SOS, with the support of KPMG, releases important insights into the true costs of failed international assignments.

International SOS, the world's leading health and security services company, releases findings on the financial impact that failed business trips and international assignments, can have on organisations. Supported by a Return on Investment report led by Ipsos and developed with KPMG, the figures show that the cost of a failed international assignment can reach up to USD 1.25 million. Deficiencies in health, security, and wellbeing prevention of an organisation’s mobile workforce can be reasons for failed assignments.Commenting on the figure, and the importance of preventative strategies, Katherine Avery, Tax Principal at KPMG, states, “With the impact to the business of a failed international assignment potentially being detrimental, striking a balance between managing cost and employee experience is vital for the success of any assignment. Engaging with the internal global mobility team early in the planning stages can be highly beneficial, as their expertise with the mobility policy and understanding of the organisation, can help to ensure an optimal employee experience while also effectively managing cost and compliance.”

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Last year, International SOS proactively disseminated approximately 8.5 million medical and security alerts and special advisories each month to mobile workers and those responsible for safeguarding their wellbeing. The Return on Investment report highlights the importance of this work, especially in light of the KPMG’s estimate of the cost of a failed assignment.Dr Neil Nerwich, Group Medical Director at International SOS, comments: “The key points with respect to cost containment are proactivity, in both, the prevention of medical incidents through appropriate preparation and education of employees before deployment and travel. The interventions we take very early on in the course of a medical event have a significant impact on the ultimate medical outcome of a patient. At International SOS, early intervention is at the core of our approach, which starts before an individual travels or is assigned overseas. When we are highly proactive, we are not only significantly benefiting medical outcomes, but also mitigating for our clients’ business disruption. By addressing illnesses or injuries promptly with International SOS medical professionals involved from the first contact, we can identify and mitigate potential issues that might escalate into catastrophic events.”The Return on Investment report also examines the cost-effectiveness of travel risk prevention strategies. Data from the report shows that preventive health check programmes can yield a significant return, with every USD 1.00 invested potentially resulting in a USD 2.53 return.Furthermore, it is reported 72% of HR specialists reported a positive impact on employee wellbeing and resilience when partnering with third-party specialist organisations. This improvement is attributed to the increased access to mental health support programmes and resources. Around three quarters of survey respondents have also indicated a substantial reduction in both the frequency and duration of business disruptions caused by medical emergencies or incidents through accessing International SOS services.
The Return on Investment report was developed in conjunction with KPMG between June and September 2023 by Ipsos, the market leading research firm, on behalf of International SOS. The research involved surveying senior decision makers responsible for risk management, health, safety and/or security of people from 255 International SOS clients across the world.To determine the potential financial risk of a failed international assignment, KPMG analysed  representative long-term assignment data to  estimate the cost to an organisation in four key areas: Compensation, Relocation Costs, Ongoing Assignment Support, and Taxes. Using this data, KPMG calculated an average yearly cost for these respective categories and extrapolated these figures over the average length of a long-term assignment.

About KPMG International

KPMG is a global organization of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. KPMG is the brand under which the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”) operate and provide professional services. “KPMG” is used to refer to individual member firms within the KPMG organization or to one or more member firms collectively.KPMG firms operate in 143 countries and territories with more than 273,000 partners and employees working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. Each KPMG member firm is responsible for its own obligations and liabilities.KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients.For more detail about our structure, please visit

About the International SOS Group of Companies

The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives and protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, and your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity, and sustainability.Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by over 9,000 organisations. This includes the majority of the Fortune Global 500. As well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions, and NGOs. Nearly 12,000 multi-cultural security, medical, logistics and digital experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days. Between them, International SOS employees speak nearly 100 languages and dialects in our Assistance Centres, Clinics, and offices.To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips:

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