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30% of companies have no idea how many overseas employees they have

Staff writer |
Businesses are investing millions each year sending employees on global assignments without being able to quantify the cost or measure the value from their investment, according to PwC.

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This is leading to nearly 60% percent of organisations saying their global mobility programmes currently do not deliver value for money.

PwC's new Modern Mobility report predicts that the number of people going on global assignments will increase by 50% by 2020, with nine in ten organisations saying they are looking to increase the amount of globally mobile people over the next two years.

However, despite this anticipated rise in global assignments, worryingly only 8% of global organisations are able to accurately put a cost on their mobility programmes and just 9% measure their return on investment from mobility.

The report, based on an in-depth survey of nearly 200 global executives, warns that too many HR teams lack the information, investment and infrastructure to meet the evolving business demands and manage the growing number of internationally mobile employees. The research reveals that 30% of companies aren't even sure how many of their employees work overseas each year.

As well as a likely increase in the number of people who are on a global assignment, the nature of these assignments is also going to change, according to PwC's research.

The biggest change will be the number of people going on short-term assignments, with the survey participants expecting a net doubling (58%) in their use. This type of assignment (up to one year) is increasingly being used by businesses to get the right people on the ground quickly to deliver set projects and as a way to develop high-potential employees.

The number of business travellers is also expected to increase by similar levels (net 57%), but this also brings risks as it is the most challenging type of mobility to manage. Just 17% of organisations said they have robust policies, processes and controls in place to manage the tax, immigration and regulatory compliance around business travellers.

The report also predicts the rise of new types of mobility, such as talent swaps between two different countries. More than one in five organisations plan to introduce talent swaps in the next two years.