Building a global approach to business has overtaken improving business operations as the main rationale for sending employees to work abroad, a major new survey from Axa Global Healthcare has found. The survey of 543 decision-makers, found that in 2020, the main rationale for sending employees overseas was to build a global way of working and approach to business. In 2017, the main reason for companies to place employees abroad was to improve business operations, a priority for 51 per cent.
A positive change for the employee is that the number of businesses prioritising sending employees abroad to meet lifestyle ambitions of the workforce had increased to 37 per cent in 2020’s research from 23 per cent in 2017.
Another significant change was the increased challenge facing global mobility managers in developing healthcare packages for international workers. Half of the HR managers surveyed stated that some of the biggest challenges facing their organisation were developing benefit packages that are consistent across different employee types and geographies – 52 per cent in 2020 compared with 45 per cent in 2017 – and meeting demands for a wide range of healthcare and wellbeing services, up to 51 per cent of respondents from 34 per cent in 2017.
However, the HR decision-makers surveyed indicated that, compared to other benefits, managing the cost of providing a comprehensive package was considerably less challenging than in previous years, falling from 52 per cent in 2017 to 39 per cent in 2020. This is despite the fact that before the impact of Covid-19, the average cost of placing an assignment had increased from £36,000 in 2017 to £49,000 in 2020.
. Support available following an assignment’s completion has also improved. A full repatriation package was made available by 54 per cent of managers, up from 43 per cent in 2017, which can include career coaching or preparing for a new role. In addition, over half of mobility managers now see international assignments as a route to career progression, with an assignment often ending in a promotion for the employee, up to 53 per cent from 42 per cent in 2017.
Axa Global Healthcare global head of international healthcare Andy Edwards says: “The need for international working has not gone away since our initial report in 2017. If anything, the appetite for it has grown. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic, which began as this research was being undertaken, will bring a new perspective to international assignments.
“But of those global mobility managers we interviewed some weeks into the pandemic, many suggested that it wouldn’t necessarily change their business need for international assignments to take place. Instead, it appeared to be the nature of the assignments that might evolve, with shorter-term assignments and focus on choosing the right person to send becoming even more prevalent. We might even see this evolution unfold differently in individual sectors, depending on their ability to deploy skills and resources when needed.
“We were particularly pleased to see a change in the challenges in developing healthcare packages. Emphasis is now less on managing cost and more on developing a package that meets a wider range of employee demand. This can only be of benefit for employees, as they look for more support from their employer. The concept of offering more specific benefits for individuals with different needs, while challenging for the manager to deliver, will support the specific needs of the employee wherever they are in the world.”