As the global war for talent intensifies and the pursuit of low-cost manufacturing and commodities persists, mobility patterns continue to evolve. While emerging markets offer attractive benefits, global assignments in remote locations can place heightened pressure on the ability of foreign assignees and their families to adapt and thrive — both personally and professionally.
A Case for Greater Spouse Support
Olivier Meier, Principal at Mercer — a leader in global consulting — specializes in international talent management, with a focus on global mobility within emerging markets. He says: ‘’Family considerations represent some of the biggest challenges for foreign assignees sent to a remote location, with the inability of the employee’s spouse to find work in the host location one of the greatest barriers to global mobility. Relocating spouses might have to stop or slow down their careers — a sacrifice that not everybody is prepared to make’’.
The Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition, a report based on the Expat Insider survey, indicates that relocating spouses are generally at home — 27% are taking care of their households or children, and 17% are looking for work. While foreign assignees benefit from networking and socializing opportunities within the workplace, relocating spouses may miss out on these valuable aspects of support. This might mean that their social integration can take longer, if it happens at all, and lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
As a central element of the expat family structure, it is critical that companies consider the needs of spouses when providing relocation support. This is, however, an area of assistance that is lacking across the board, with 56% of relocating spouses not receiving additional spouse support as part of their relocation package, although they would like it (Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition). Furthermore, 65% of relocating spouses miss access to socializing opportunities, and an even greater number — 68% — would like access to networking (Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition).
Getting the Most Out of Emerging Markets
While emerging markets offer attractive benefits, the ongoing challenge will be for employers to meet the unique support needs of foreign assignees and their families. With family-related concerns some of the biggest challenges for assignees in remote locations, employers may need to put a greater focus on supporting relocating spouses, to ensure that the employee and their family is happy and productive abroad.
Read the full Mobility Insight article about the added support foreign assignees and their families need from their employer when relocating to a remote location.
Expat Insider 2018 | Business Edition Country Focus