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Mobile workforce as popular as ever: KPMG survey 

Singapore, 11 September 2013

Organisations all over the world are leveraging the benefits of a globally mobile workforce
According to the latest annual KPMG Global Assignment Policies and Practices (GAPP) survey, 72 percent of over 600 organisations surveyed use global mobility programmes to support overall business objectives.

In its 15th edition, the GAPP survey – which involved respondents from countries including the United States of America, Australia and Singapore – provides a wealth of information for those responsible for or interested in global mobility.

The detailed data found in the report is an opportunity to compare or contrast one’s current practices to those of their peers or other types of organisations. Further, it allows for critical learning of best practices and new ways of thinking.

"A globally mobile workforce is as popular as ever," said Mr Ooi Boon Jin, Head of International Executive Services, KPMG in Singapore. "Over the 15 years of this survey’s existence, in those companies where use of mobility is the norm, we have seen continued expansion and adaptation to the programmes. We have even observed companies with headquarters in Nordic and Asia Pacific regions beginning to jump on the globalisation bandwagon. These companies are moving their staff to new strategic growth locations."

Flexibility and adaptability of programmes to address changing demands is strongly evidenced through the variety of assignment types offered:

  • Some 81 percent of organisations offer short term assignments
  • About 96 percent offer long term assignments
  • About 47 percent offer permanent transfer/indefinite length assignments.

Surprisingly, given the current economic environment, and the noted desire to support the business, only 12 percent of survey participants say that cost control and assurance of an acceptable return on investment (ROI) are of importance.

Said Mr Ooi: "Having agreed-upon metrics to demonstrate ROI helps any global mobility programme demonstrate objectively their value to the broader organisation and secure continued programme funding."

"However, a notable amount of survey participants struggle to track ROI information as it relates to international assignments - 27 percent do not know the percentage of assignees that leave the organisation within 12 months of repatriation and 31 percent do not know why they leave."

Encouragingly, survey participants, year-on-year, continue to exhibit inclusionary mindsets as it relates to the definition of a "family" within their policies for benefit purposes. Some 55 percent include unmarried domestic partners and companions of the opposite gender and 49 percent include unmarried domestic partners and companions of the same gender. These broader definitions are most evident in European and Asia Pacific-headquartered organisations, and also within the financial services and high technology industries.

In circumstances where organisations may offer incentives for assignees to accept international opportunities, many survey participants also take into consideration dual-career couples and their children. For instance, 21 percent provide job search support in the host country and 21 percent reimburse education expenses for the spouse/partner. Some 41 percent offer language training and 37 percent offer cross-cultural training to the assignee, spouse and their children.

Overall, the use of international assignees will remain the same amount or more for 86 percent of survey participants.