International Snapshot

In 2016, essentially half of international firms saw relocation volumes increase overall and internationally. Few firms saw any volume decreases. Expectations for 2017 are for more of the same with roughly half expecting further increases overall and internationally.

225 human resource/relocation professionals:

  • Work in human resources/personnel or relocation/mobility services departments (91%)
  • Work for firms that relocate employees between countries (87%)

For analysis, firms are categorized by size:

  • Small: Fewer than 500 salaried employees (18%)
  • Mid-size: 500-4,999 salaried employees (37%)
  • Large: 5,000+ salaried employees (45%)

Major Trends

More Relocations Last Year, Further Increase Expected in 2017

In 2016, essentially half of international firms saw relocation volumes increase overall and internationally. Few firms saw any volume decreases. Expectations for 2017 are for more of the same with roughly half expecting further increases overall and internationally.

Budgets Continue Rebounding

In 2016, half of international firms said relocation budgets increased and around half believe budgets will increase again in 2017.

Factors Impacting Relocation Volumes

Expansion efforts (47%), lack of local talent (44%), and company growth (43%) were by far the factors international firms cited most often as affecting relocation volumes last year.

Declined Relocations

Similar to overall trends, the majority (69%) of international firms said employees declined relocation last year; the top two reasons were family issues/ties (74%) and spouse/partner employment (59%). The majority offer spouse/partner employment assistance (68%) and assistance with child care (67%), while nearly half (47%) offer elder care assistance. These percentages are in line with general survey trends.

Employee Status Impacts Reimbursement

Similar to overall trends, international firms are less likely to offer full reimbursement for new hires (47%) compared to transferees (72%). Partial and full reimbursement are equally likely for new hires (45% & 47%), who are most likely to receive lump sums (55%). For transferees, full reimbursement is most likely (72%), followed by lump sums (59%) and partial reimbursement (44%).

Mobility Strategy & Assignment Diversity

Nearly all firms (92%) follow a formal, global-mobility policy. Seventy-seven percent use alternative assignments of some kind to meet strategic business goals (43%) and to answer employee requests (40%), among other reasons. Additionally, 78% of firms follow a formal, short-term/temporary assignment policy; 59% use an extended business travel policy; and 44% maintain a policy for long-distance commuters. Long-term or “permanent” relocations are in the mix as well: over a fifth of international relocations were permanent transfers. Many firms have formal policies covering permanent transfers (73%) and localization (65%) also.