Global nomads complicate expatriate benefit programs
While the raw number of transferees working with international relocation services has remained relatively stable over the past several years, the growing trend of "global nomads," who move from posting to posting, has made proving employee benefits more difficult, according to Mercer.
The firm's 2011/2012 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Internationally Mobile Employees explained that the percentage of short-term transferees has dropped from 17 percent in 2008/2009 to 2011/2012's figure of 11 percent. However, those in long-term expatriate situations rose from 21 percent to 40 percent. In addition, global nomads increased to 10 percent from the 6 percent seen in the previous report.
"Seasoned professionals who can bring solid international experience and a depth of knowledge across a number of operating environments are vital to companies looking to create or expand new ventures abroad and gain a competitive advantage," said Mark Price, principal for Mercer's International Consulting Group. "We are seeing that multinationals are expecting their talent pool to have varied geographical experience as a prerequisite to climbing the top rungs of the career ladder."
However, these continual moves can make the entire benefits process more difficult. One of the main issues that companies have with transferees who move frequently is retirement benefits and how to deal with them. The report found that close to two-thirds of long- and short-term transferees maintain retirement accounts in their home country. Innovation to create international retirement plans has been slow going, as fewer than 15 percent of companies have successfully implemented flexible retirement plans.
More than 95 percent of companies use private health insurance plans for their transferees, which was significantly higher than the report that came out in 2005. In that year, fewer than 60 percent of companies utilized private insurance. Many companies also report health insurance costs spiking, which makes doing business overseas far more expensive.
The report added that nearly 90 percent of companies involved in corporate relocation did note that they have processes in place to measure the success of their benefits programs. Companies unsure of whether their benefits packages are effective and competitive should review options with their relocation management firm.
Filed under: International Relocation Services