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Overseas Postings Up, but Cushy Expat Deals Nixed

May 14, 2008
Related Topics: Career Development, Expatriate Management, Employee Career Development, Workforce Planning, Latest News
Corporate transfers of executives continue at a strong rate—at least on an international basis, thanks to booming trade with China and the relative health of the European Union, a new survey says.

“Despite a slowing economy, an overwhelming majority of multinational corporations remain highly optimistic about the global outlook for their businesses and say they plan to send more employees on overseas assignments in the months ahead,” according to the Global Relocation Trends Survey issued Monday, May 12, by GMAC Global Relocation Services.

The worldwide survey of 154 multinational businesses found that 68 percent continue to build their employee reassignment efforts. Of those, 95 percent say they plan to either increase the number of employees being transferred or stay at the same level as last year; 5 percent plan to reduce the number of workers they relocate.

While businesses continue to ship execs overseas, they’re reducing the size of expat packages. Scott Sullivan, senior vice president of GMAC Global Relocation Services, said companies are being more cautious in managing the expenses related to assignments because the cost of posting a manager in another country is about three times the stay-at-home pay and benefits for that employee.

In fact, 58 percent of the respondents indicated they are cutting back on expenses for international assignments. Of those, 29 percent said they were reducing offerings and financial incentives for them.

Family concerns were cited as the most common reason for refusing a foreign assignment. GMAC Global Relocation Services said that explanation was given by 89 percent of those who declined a foreign transfer. The survey concluded that it is vital to consider an employee’s full family situation before asking the worker to transfer internationally.

The survey also shows that returning expats tend to resign their jobs at a regular clip. Twenty-seven percent of workers who take cross-border postings leave their employers within one year of completing their foreign assignments, according to the survey. That is more than double the average turnover rate for other employees.

Filed by Frank Byrt of Financial Week, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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