Cartus survey reveals the three greatest challenges in global mobility

A new survey of 148 worldwide relocation managers has also highlighted a decrease in the number of Generation X transferees and a significant increase in the number of globally mobile Millennials.

Whether it's a job relocation to the United States, the United Kingdom, or China, employees embarking on an international assignment likely have several things in common: namely, long wait times to obtain work visas; problems with payroll; and issues with housing, according to Cartus Corporation's just-released Trends in Global Relocation.Waiting times for visas were named by 63 per cent of respondents as the top issue relative to compliance with laws and regulations. Last year, the number-one immigration area in which companies were seeing an increase was the need for upfront planning, due to the length of time it takes to obtain visas."Multinational companies rely on a trusted partner such as Cartus for expert guidance to help them navigate through these issues and much more," said Matt Spinolo, executive vice president of Cartus. "Last year Cartus helped more than 171,000 employees move into or out of nearly 150 countries."Depending on the destination country, the overall processing time for international work visas can take anywhere from three weeks to six months, according to Cartus executives."Senior management of multinational firms typically find that processes such as obtaining a work permit can be complex and lengthy, which can be challenging to the business, and often very frustrating for the assignee," said Mr Spinolo.

Payroll problems, housing issues also prevalent

One of the top challenges facing companies and their assignees is in the area of payroll. A key issue, named by just over half of respondents (51 per cent), is currency fluctuation, which can affect employees' paycheques if mitigating steps are not taken. Other payroll issues noted by respondents included complications with payroll inflexibility in some countries, and differing home and host pay approaches within regions or countries.When it comes to housing, 64 per cent of relocation managers named high costs the biggest challenge for companies, by far.Housing that is different or of lower quality than assignees expect ranked second (52 per cent), while inadequate inventory (50 per cent) ranked as the third-highest housing challenge.Mr Spinolo said, "These challenges highlight the need for multinational companies to set assignees' expectations up front, not only in the area of housing quality, but also in the need to be decisive because competition for limited expatriate-style housing inventory can be stiff."

Millennial vs. Generation X – Who's getting the job transfer?

When it comes to who is being transferred, the number of millennials on global assignment has increased 3 percentage points in just two years (27 per cent this year compared to 24 per cent in 2013). The Cartus survey found fewer Generation X employees (those between 35 and 49 years of age) are going on global assignment, down five percentage points in 2015 (51 per cent) versus 2013 (56 per cent).

Finances over families?

Respondents indicated that finances outweighed family issues by a greater than 5-to-1 ratio. Although family issues remain important, cost control continues to be top of mind within most organisations.

HR managers pointed to the top three areas of concern:

  • Finances – rising costs are the top concern for HR managers and/or business partners.
  • Family issues – expats dealing with family issues that ultimately impact their productivity.
  • Failure of assignments – which cost the company time, money, and missed opportunities.
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