70% of companies believe offering expat assignments increases staff loyalty

May 10, 2018

A recent survey of corporate clients by Allianz Care shows the majority of companies believe that offering expat assignments increases staff loyalty to the employer. It’s an important consideration for HR teams looking at the best ways to motivate staff, bearing in mind that the biggest workforce related concern highlighted by the survey was how to keep staff engaged.

The survey included responses from almost 100 client organisations from around the world, from a wide range of industries. The aim of the survey was to gain an insight into the key workforce related concerns facing employers today, as well as finding out which company benefits employees value the most. Allianz Care, the international health brand of Allianz Partners, specialises in providing international health and life insurance and associated health and protection services. Clients include large and small multinational organisations, IGOsNGOs and private individuals

Of the corporate clients surveyed, those working within smaller companies tended to be responsible for the highest proportion of expat employees. Companies with between 3 and 20 employees had on average 75% of their employees working on assignment abroad, while the proportion of expatriated staff in companies of 100+ employees decreased to an average of 40%.  

The survey revealed that the top four workforce related concerns facing employers today are staff engagement, recruitment, costs and physical health.  Client feedback highlighted the relationship between staff engagement, service experience, and ultimately, company results, as well as the importance of staff retention, particularly in buoyant markets where finding a new job is relatively easy.  The survey indicated an increasing level of concern around the pace of regulatory change, the personal security of staff and how best to support the needs of an aging workforce alongside those of younger generations.

Respondents reported that the two most important factors to get right when it comes to a successful assignment abroad are the happiness of the accompanying spouse and children, and pre-relocation support, both a top priority for 97% of the respondents. According to the survey, the top destination that employers are planning to send staff to (that they don’t currently) is Asia Pacific.

When it comes to what’s on the minds of their staff, the survey highlighted that after traditional benefits such as salary, bonus and health cover, important for 95% of the respondents, the highest value is placed on career progression, flexibility and proactive health services. Feedback indicates that employee demand for progression and recognition has increased and is a critical factor in retaining the best talent. Work-life balance is increasingly important to staff, especially in younger generations, plus there is a greater appetite for non financial benefits.

“These findings show the common challenges facing employers today, and highlight the evolving needs of their employees. The reality is that a happy workforce generally results in a better service experience for customers. One of the most important ways of motivating and keeping staff today is by ensuring there are opportunities for career progression, along with providing greater flexibility in the workplace."

“A huge chunk of people’s lives is spent at work so it is important that it’s a pleasant place to be and that they and their family get the support they need. Our research found that the top three reasons for the failure of expatriate assignments were: the employees’ family members did not settle in or were unhappy; cultural issues and lack of flexibility; insufficient support either before, during or after the assignment. Companies who get this right will be ahead of the curve.”