HRO TODAY Oct 2013

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Relocation traditional long-term assignments," says Exline. "We have seen an increase in short-term [less than 6 months] and project-based assignments over long-term [one year or more] expatriate assignments." In some cases, companies have found that carefully planned short-term assignments or business travel combined with increased utilization of technology are able to meet business needs while minimizing costs. Companies trying this approach include those affected by housing market issues in the United States and U.K. which have made home sale assistance and buyback programs more difficult to manage. However, cost reduction measures through policy changes have to be balanced with the need to ensure employees in critical roles continue to have a positive experience. "Assignment policies should be written to where an employee will not feel a negative impact, financially, in the new location over their home location," says Stephen C. McGarry, director of global mobility at WPP. "So when we review policies, we need to be able to cut company costs, while still keeping our employees 'whole'." Localization: Friend or Foe? The 2013 Brookfield survey found that 41 percent of companies are considering implementing policies for converting international assignments to local status. Are companies using localization to move experienced expatriate employees onto less expensive salary and benefits packages? "I have not seen an increased use of localizations as an alternative to international assignments," says Exline. The cost and complexity of transitioning an expatriate to a local package can outweigh the benefits. Pension and retirement contributions are an example of the difficulties companies can encounter. "The employee may be contributing to multiple country systems and may not meet vesting or participation requirements," she says. "If you have a large, highly mobile population, an international retirement plan may solve these challenges, but implementing and maintaining international plans can be costly." Transitioning to a new tax system can also be an issue requiring "advance planning and consultation with tax professionals to ensure a seamless transition," she adds. Localization is more often determined by where opportunities are located and how individuals want to develop their careers than simply to the need to drive down costs. "Costs have nothing to do with employees going local," says McGarry. "It is more a situation of the job is in that location, and, for the foreseeable future, this is where you will be." Employer and employee attitudes toward international [84] HRO TODAY MAGAZINE | OCTOBER 2013 "Succession planning should be tied to the goals of the business and should be incorporated into the assignment process from the outset. The company will make a significant financial investment and should be focused on retaining international assignees." — Kelly Service's Stefanie Exline assignments—and the kind of packages assignees are looking for—are changing. Whereas in the past, generous expatriate packages included incentives to accept appointments, says Exline, incentives increasingly recognize that "the assignment experience itself provides inherent benefits to the employee and career development opportunities." The knowledge of new or emerging markets, wider networks, broader insights, and heightened global awareness are all increasingly viewed by assignees themselves as enhancing their future leadership potential. Brookfield's 2013 global mobility survey revealed trends in assignee demographics reflecting these changing attitudes: Single status assignments are increasing; and the 30 to 39-year-old age group had the highest share of international assignments. "It may be that family demands such as schooling are less problematic for this group," says Gorski, "but it may also be driven by the desire of this demographic to seek the international experience that will enhance their career prospects." Ambitious employees in their early to mid-thirties are actively seeking international roles: "As assignments become more formally recognized as part of the career path for leadership positions, we expect this trend to continue." Brookfield is continuing to research how Gen Y or Millenials could impact on international mobility. The Need For Alignment Exline thinks companies could do more to increase the alignment between global mobility and business strategy. "Succession planning should be tied to the goals of the

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