Multinationals forced into rethink over expat support

Multinational companies are expanding programmes for emp-loyees who relocate abroad in the face of increased staff concerns over family well-being.

Responding to many employees’ hesitancy to accept overseas assignments due to family worries and job-related issues, a growing number of companies in the US and elsewhere are offering programmes and services aimed at easing the transition to a new country, according to GMAC Global Relocation Services.

However, analysing data going back 10 years to the first time it published its Global Relocation Trends Survey, the company found that things have definitely improved.

In 1993, only 15% offered education and training support for families. By 2003, 40% of organisations were offering this support. The comparative analysis also found that 25% of companies offered career-planning assistance to employees’ partners who relocated with them in 2003, compared with only 15% in 1993.

However, company officials said firms still need to do more. Last year, 86% of relocating employees were accompanied by their partners. And although half of them were employed before the relocation, after the move this fell to 16%.

Rick Schwartz, chief executive of GMAC Global Relocation Services, said: “The comfort and well-being of immediate family members is of paramount concern for expatriates.

“Our analysis clearly shows that more companies are realising this and are taking solid steps to address employee concerns.”

Schwartz said the biggest shift was in the length of expatriate assignments. In 1997, more than 80% of expatriates spent between one and three years on assignment. By comparison, in 2003 the majority of assignments (70%) were for less than a year.

The Global Relocation Trends Survey questions senior HR professionals with responsiblity for staff in 7,500 offices worldwide.

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