DOD’s blog: the changing face of expatriates

This week I managed to get myself down to the Totally Expat Show to immerse myself in the world of global mobility managers for a few hours.

On Employee Benefits we regularly touch on expatriate benefits, but it is not a key focus (we leave that to our lovely colleagues over at the Forum for Expatriate Management) so it is easy to be slightly out of touch. For example, a few years ago everyone was telling me that the use of expatriates was in decline as employers focussed instead on using local staff in their overseas offices.

But Monday’s day out proved just how wrong predictions can be. Instead of expatriates being in decline, they are as popular as ever but look very different.They are as likely to come out of emerging markets as out of developing countries and in some cases ‘expatriates’ are local nationals who have been long-term residents elsewhere.

This means that global mobility managers have more challenges than ever to contend with. For example, moving staff on the same level from low-paid countries and vice versa throws up all sorts of complex salary adjustment problems.

The age and family profile has changed too. According to ECA International research, the old 36-50-year-old-with-family profile is in decline. On the rise are young single expats or older assignees without parental responsibilities.

This, too, has completely reshaped the type of benefits you offer a typical (is there such a thing) assignee.

But just to check I have my facts right, I will be heading over to New York next month to see what delegates at the Totally Expat Show North East have to say. I’ll keep you posted on what our US colleagues are saying.

Debi O’Donovan
Employee Benefits