According to an independent survey of 200 HR professionals commissioned by Collinson, a leading provider of International Private Medical Insurance (iPMI), nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents expect more staff to be sent on long-term international assignments over the next three years.
Of these, 13 per cent see numbers rising by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent, the average being 7 per cent. This compares with 15 per cent who see a decrease in the number of international assignments and 37 per cent who do not expect a change.
Collinson’s iPMI products protect employees working overseas by giving them access to the best global healthcare including hospitals, medical evacuation, dentists and wellness benefits. They help keep staff safe, happy and in good health, allowing them to focus on the job at hand and make international assignments a success.
Lawrence Watts, Collinson’s commercial director, says, ‘Our survey findings show that more companies are realising the huge benefits associated with sending staff to work overseas. It helps develop leadership and problem-solving skills, encourages collaborative working, strengthens company loyalty and attracts new employees who increasingly view international assignments as an enormous opportunity.
‘The results could also indicate that some businesses plan to move some of their operations away from the UK following its withdrawal from the European Union.
‘However, what is clear is that companies are seeking to properly protect staff working abroad, a fact evidenced by the heavy and sustained growth in the iPMI market. If international assignments fail it can be damaging to an employee’s wellbeing, not to mention a wasted investment for employers.’
Collinson’s research also reveals shifting trends when it comes to demographics. Nearly a third (31 per cent) of respondents said that more staff under the age of 34 were being sent overseas, more than double the percentage who stated it was older staff (over 45).
Peter Sewell, regional director (UK, Ireland and Northern Europe) at global mobility consultant Crown World Mobility, says, ‘These statistics are interesting because they highlight a world of global mobility which is changing. There are big political influences of course – such as Brexit – but there are also important sociological drivers too.
‘The days of long-term international assignments being only for middle-aged western expats on big bonus packages are long gone. These days millennials see working abroad and experiencing different cultures as integral to their cross-culture competence and general development. Corporations see it as a way to identify and develop managers early.
‘In that sense international assignments are becoming an important part of talent development and talent retention. The challenge for corporations, on an increasingly tight budget, is how to ensure assignees are safe, supported and successful while they work abroad, especially when sent to challenging locations. A big part of this is managing travel risk effectively and planning for every contingency.’