With both partners in a family earning well, it is getting harder for companies to uproot either one to send on a mobility assignment.

Dual career, or the challenge of managing career aspirations of the spouse, combined with family issues was cited as the top barrier to employee mobility (37%), in Mercer's worldwide survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices.

This was especially noted in Hong Kong, which Connie Leung, Mercer’s Hong Kong information solutions business leader, described as "one of the high-cost, high-pay cities in the region."

"This means that balancing costs and the attractiveness of international assignment packages becomes one of the key factors companies need to consider when they move the employees from and to Hong Kong," she added.

"If the employee is from a dual-income family, it is even more difficult to move him or her from Hong Kong to work in other locations, for permanent or longer-term assignments.

"Therefore, we see the increasing trend towards local-plus packages, with more flexible arrangements and short-term assignments offered here," added Leung.

Anne Rossier-Renaud, principal in Mercer’s global mobility business, added: "Employees on overseas assignments are less likely to bring the family along, allowing the spouse to continue working in the home country and saving the company the cost of relocation."

"However, these assignment types can come with significant compliance challenges, and it is imperative that companies monitor these assignees carefully for tax, social security and immigration purposes."

ALSO READ: The top 5 challenges of relocating staff to China

Globally, 85% of companies have a policy or policies in place for international assignments up from 81% in 2012.

The report also noted a marked increase in companies with multiple policies up from 57% in 2012 to 64% in 2015, a consequence of the diversifying trend in assignments.

The proportion of female expatriates has increased, with the worldwide average participation standing at 15%, up from 12% in 2013 and 9 % in 2010.

Age-wise the majority of long-term assignees (66%) are between 35-55 years old, whereas short-term assignees are increasingly younger, under 35 years old (48%, up from 45% in 2013).

"Implementing fit-for-purpose policies, to suit both different assignees and assignments, can be a highly efficient cost-saving initiative for most global mobility functions," commented Rossier-Renaud.

To learn more about the latest trends in talent mobility, an exclusive invitation-only conference for HR executives and senior mobility specialists, Workforce Mobility Interactive 2016 is coming up-find out more.


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