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Changing Perspectives | How Assignee Views Have Evolved During COVID-19 and Why it Matters

Liane Cheyne |
November 20, 2020

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the global mobility landscape, throwing up new and complex challenges for both employers and employees. Much attention has been given to the way organizations are adapting to meet these challenges. But how are assignees and potential assignees, responding to the concept of an international assignment during these changing and unpredictable times?

Recent research* has uncovered some noteworthy insights into the viewpoints of assignees, both current and future, that are of critical importance to any organization undertaking a global mobility program.

  • Employees still want to undertake international assignments.

    While there is no doubt that COVID-19 and resulting restrictions have impacted the extent to which there is an appetite for undertaking international assignments, recent research* has shown that assignees still wish to pursue them, albeit more cautiously.

    Additionally, much of what attracted employees to undertake international assignments has been diminished by the current pandemic. For example, the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, previously a key benefit for many international assignees, has been significantly reduced or, in some cases, eliminated entirely. Employers will likely have to emphasize other benefits to encourage international assignment consideration.

  • The focus of concern has shifted.

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was natural for all assignees to experience some doubts about pursuing an international assignment. However, new challenges have presented themselves as a result of the pandemic, and are now at the forefront of assignee’s minds when considering an international move.

    A recent survey**, noted that potential assignees were increasingly concerned by the ability to travel between the host and home countries, schooling arrangements for dependents and handling of the pandemic in the host country. Organizations should be transparent about these issues and provide as much support as possible to any potential assignee faced with making the decision to undertake an international assignment.

  • Assignees are more aware of their support needs.

    In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, assignees are acutely aware of the kinds of difficulties that may arise during their assignment. The need for a comprehensive package of support is more apparent than ever, and potential assignees will likely expect greater reassurance that this is in place. It will be more important than ever for all organizations planning international assignments to ensure that their provision for support meets the expectations of their assignees. Now more than ever there is a greater focus on Duty of Care.

    With this in mind, organizations will need to be prepared to present a robust relocation package in order to continue to encourage assignees to undertake international assignments. While the appetite for these assignments is still there, employees will need to feel increasingly reassured that any potential move will be a positive and worthwhile experience for them and their families.

    If you need assistance to review or improve your global mobility program, we can help! Please contact us to schedule a call or virtual meeting to explore how we can assist you.

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