The number of employees on international assignments has doubled over the last three years as part of the continuing trends towards globalisation, forcing employers to rethink their benefits provision.
Mercer’s 2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees found that 47% of firms have increased deployment of staff on traditional expatriate assignments, and 38% had increased numbers of staff on ‘nomadic’ assignments.
It found that the growing expatriate culture has led 86% of respondents to consider their benefits package for expatriate staff as a medium or high business priority, with only 26% of organisations admitting to having no overarching policy for providing expatriate benefits.
Robert Lockley, principal in Mercer’s international business, said: “Establishing an international policy is essential to stay competitive, maintain geographical consistency and control costs. Even against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, there is still competition for the best talent. Companies that are lax in this area will lose out.”
In terms of benefits on offer, the majority (68%) of companies surveyed keep their expatriates in host or home country retirement schemes. However, 32 percent of companies offer international retirement plans – an increase from 23 percent in 2005. Close to three-quarters (73 percent) of companies with an international plan restrict eligibility to certain expatriates who cannot be kept in the home or host plan.