Employers Worldwide Explore Alternative Mobility Strategies

Employers Worldwide Explore Alternative Mobility Strategies

Mercer Insights

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June 2014

Employers Worldwide Explore Alternative Mobility Strategies


Global mobility directors face increasing complexity in the number and types of international assignments they manage. According to Mercer’s new Alternative International Assignments Policies and Practices Survey report, organizations have embraced a wider range of mobility strategies due to the growing use of assignees across the career-development spectrum and from greater number of countries, coupled with competing pressures to attract and retain talent while controlling costs.

International assignment mix includes many alternatives

Mercer’s report examines six types of assignments that are commonly used as alternatives to the traditional long-term international assignment (three to five years in length). Short-term assignments — which last from six to 18 months — are most common. (See Figure 1)

Not all employers put policies in place

Although multinational employers’ use of the six types of alternative international assignments varies, what varies even more is whether these assignments are managed under formal policies. Employers are most likely to have formal policies for short-term, developmental/training, and local plus assignments. (See Figure 2)

Mobility practices vary by industry, region

Different mobility practices are seen across industries, with pharmaceutical and health care reporting the highest percentages of employers using a multi-tier policy approach; 79% use two or more types of policies. Manufacturing and construction and engineering show the opposite; 44% of firms in these industries use just one type of alternative assignment policy.(See Figure 3)

Overall, about four in 10 employers (39%) use just one of the alternative international assignment policies. Only 14% of surveyed companies in Europe and 10% in the Americas use four or more alternative assignment policies, compared to 25% of Asian employers.

About the report

The full Alternative International Assignments Policies and Practices Survey, Global, 2013 Edition gives global mobility managers access to detailed policy and practice benchmarking information for a broad range of international assignment types.

View the report at www.imercer.com/AIA.


Anne Rossier-Renaud (Geneva)
Principal, Global Mobility
+41 22 869 30 91
James O’Neill (Chicago)
Principal, Talent
+1 312 917 9683


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