Research shows fall in employees willing to relocate abroad

The number of employees who are prepared to relocate abroad has declined from 25 per cent in 2012 to 18 per cent in 2017, according to new research from the Canadian Employee Relocation Council.

Research shows fall in employees willing to relocate abroad
A survey of 10,000 employees in 20 countries, carried out by Ipsos on behalf of the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC), has revealed a fall in the number of employees who would be willing to move abroad for employment.In 2017, almost two in ten (18 per cent) employees in 20 countries said they would be ‘very likely’ to relocate for up to two years and take a full-time job in another country with a 10 per cent pay increase. In 2012, the figure was 25 per cent.“At a time when many regions of the world are transitioning to knowledge-based economies, and living standards improve, it is not surprising to see a measurable decline in the number of employees willing to relocate for employment since 2012,” said Stephen Cryne, president and CEO of the CERC.

Detailed findings

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of employees said they were ‘somewhat likely’ to relocate. Just under a quarter (23 per cent) were ‘not very likely’, and three in ten (31 per cent) were ‘not at all likely’.Around 17 per cent indicated they would be willing to relocate permanently in 2017. If there was a guarantee of a full-time job, the proportion indicating they were ‘very likely’ to relocate increased to almost three in ten (28 per cent). The figure dropped significantly if there was no guarantee of full-time employment (7 per cent).At three in ten or more, those working in marketing, advertising or public relations (32 per cent), arts/entertainment/recreation (31 per cent), aerospace/defence (31 per cent), mining/natural resources/forestry (30 per cent), and the oil and gas industry (29 per cent) were the most inclined to say they were ‘very likely’ to consider temporary relocation for up to two years with a 10 per cent increase in salary.Those who were most enticed by the prospect of relocation for up to two years included senior executives and decision-makers (24 per cent; –6 points compared with 2012); those under the age of 35 (25 per cent; –3 points); business owners (23 per cent; –5 points); and those who were unmarried (22 per cent; –5 points).

Extra incentives and partner support

The proportion of employees willing to relocate as much as doubled when some extra incentives were on offer – specifically, a guaranteed option to return to their current role after two years (36 per cent; –9 points compared to 2012); paid language training if necessary (36 per cent; –6 points); airline tickets for family visits (35 per cent; –8 points); immigration assistance for a spouse or partner (35 per cent; –7 points); and a 10 per cent pay rise (34 per cent; –7 points).However, global employees are less motivated to relocate by virtually all incentives than they were in 2012. For Stephen Cryne, “the growing populist opposition towards migration and more restrictive immigration regulations in some countries are factors that will discourage employees from considering a move to those destinations”.Twice as many employees could be convinced to relocate if their employer provided support for their spouse to get a job in the new location (36 per cent; –5 points compared with 2012).“Family concerns, and particularly spousal employment concerns, are major factors employees take into account when considering whether to pack up and move for a new job,” added Mr Cryne. However, global employees indicated they were less likely to be convinced than they were five years ago.

US still favoured destination

Nearly four in ten (37 per cent) of global employees strongly agreed that the country the foreign assignment sent them to was a major factor in their decision to relocate or not, down five points from 2012 (42 per cent).Compared with 2012, fewer said they wanted to relocate to the US (30 per cent; –4 points compared to 2012), though, at three in ten, it remained the top choice in terms of the country global employees most wanted to relocate to.The US was followed by Canada (22 per cent; +2 points), the UK (19 per cent; –3 points), Australia (19 per cent; –1 point), Germany (17 per cent; +2 points), and Switzerland (16 per cent; no change to 2012's figure).

A Canadian perspective

Canadians were asked to share their views on the motivations behind their likelihood to move abroad for work.Those who indicated they were ‘likely’ to move were asked to reflect on what barriers would prevent them from taking a foreign assignment. The number-one factor cited was family/friends (40 per cent), followed at a great distance by location (10 per cent), money/financial stability/salary (9 per cent), and job security (8 per cent).Those who indicated they were ‘unlikely’ to move were asked to describe what incentives might make them consider the move after all.Almost three in ten (27 per cent) said a pay increase would make them consider relocation. Only 6 per cent indicated the country they were relocating to would be a factor in their decision. More than four in ten (43 per cent) said nothing would make them consider relocation.The survey was sponsored by BDO Global, the Council For Global Immigration, Crown World Mobility, Dwellworks, EuRA, Randstad Holding NV, TheMIGroup, and Weichert Workforce Mobility.For related news and features, visit our Mobility Industry section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

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