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Global mobility - 5 min read

Relocation and Global Mobility Trends and Data

Maria Lamp
Content Strategist

Where is the world of global mobility moving (pun intended)? What’s making your international team members happy and what could you be doing better to retain them? Here’s a selection of global mobility trends to help HR professionals shape smart mobility and employee relocation policies.

Why and where are people moving in 2019 and onwards?

  • According to a 2018 study, people’s willingness to work abroad has decreased globally since 2014.
  • The same study found that willingness to take a job abroad is 67% among digital experts. This is higher than the world average at 57%.
  • Willingness to work abroad has increased substantially in the US and UK, two countries where fairly recent political shifts have caused significant uncertainty.
  • 12 of the 50 most populous countries surveyed by The Boston Consulting Group show a decrease in willingness to move abroad for work. 
  • Meanwhile, more than 90% of Indians and 70% of Brazilians would move to another country for the right job.
  • Since Brexit, Germany has unseated the UK as Europe’s top destination for foreign workers. 
  • The most common reasons people relocate are for a higher paying job or career advancement (49.3%), to be closer to their family (20.5%), or transfer within a company (11.1%)
  • The most common countries of residence among expats surveyed by InterNations are Germany, the United States of America, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Spain.
  • According to HSBC’s Expat Explorer report, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, Spain, and New Zealand are the best destinations for expats.

What’s making your international hires happy (or unhappy)

  • An overwhelming majority of professionals in the US (91%) and the UK (87%) would expect their employer to help with their relocation. Their main expectations include: 

    1. cash allowances;
    2. housing assistance;
    3. insurance coordination;
    4. spouse and family support.
  • The most common types of support are organizing the move and offering a lump-sum payment for the employee to organize their own relocation.
  • Expats also want access to networking and socializing opportunities and membership in an expat organization. 61% of foreign assignees, 62% of international hires, and 68% of relocating spouses surveyed by InterNations weren’t offered this type of support but say they would have liked it. 
  • The largest shares of expats consider the lack of socializing a key reason for their unhappiness in their destination country.
  • 43% of international hires and 48% of relocating spouses struggle to make friends locally, which could lead to getting stuck in an expat bubble
  • The happiness ratings of international hires and relocating spouses are nearly ten percentage points lower than those of foreign assignees. This indicates that international hires and relocating spouses don’t get the same level of support as foreign assignees.
  • 27% of relocating spouses are taking care of their households or children and 17% are looking for work. This means 44% of them are not fully employed. 
  • Roughly six out of ten companies say that spousal/partner employment almost always or frequently affects relocations.

Diversity and inclusion: easier said than done

How Global Mobility teams are working now and how they want to work

  • 85% of European tech employers surveyed by Balderton sponsor international visas when hiring employees from outside their region.
  • 80% of US employers expected their foreign national headcount to either increase or stay the same in 2019 compared to 2018. 46% expect it to increase, close to 3 times more than those expecting it to decrease. 95% consider foreign nationals important to their company’s talent acquisition strategy.
  • 68% of global mobility teams use Excel spreadsheets to manage business travelers.
  • 61% of global mobility teams are planning to invest in new technology over the next 24 months. 48% have invested in new GM technology over the past year, compared to 29% a year ago. In North America, that number is as high as 63%.
  • GM teams that have invested in new technology report better cost estimations and workflow process improvements.
  • Nearly three quarters of respondents surveyed by Santa Fe in 2019 expect their Global Mobility team structure to change. 
  • Nearly a quarter of US and 27% of UK execs spend 40+ hours a month on administrative mobility tasks.
  • 74% of employers say that obtaining visas in a timely, predictable and flexible way is critical to their business goals.
  • 33% of GM teams view immigration compliance as the main challenge to achieving GM objectives over the next 24 months.

Where the world is going

It's not all sunshine and roses for talent mobility. The ongoing war for talent and changing business needs are putting pressure on HR to evolve. According to PwC’s annual global CEO survey, 55% of leaders are planning to change their global mobility strategy. 

But there's no reason to pout either. For those GM teams that consider immigration compliance their biggest challenge, there’s good news. For 2020, PwC reassuringly predicts that governments and regulators will finally accept the economic benefits of talent mobility.

This should lead to greater collaboration between governments and businesses and help remove some of the barriers to global mobility.

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