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Employees no longer as eager to move to another country: says Latest Survey from BDO

06 November 2017

Findings from a global survey of almost 15,000* found that compared with five years ago, employees at all stages of their career are now less eager to move to another country for a role.

The age group traditionally most likely to move – those aged under 35 - still top the list as the most eager to relocate for work with 25% of those surveyed confirming they would be ‘very likely’ to temporarily relocate for up to two years and take a full-time job in another country.

However, this is a drop of 3% since the last survey was conducted in 2012.

Cristian Ulloa, National Human Capital Partner at BDO Australia said the Global Mobility Study: Perceptions of employee mobility in a climate of change, found that the ideal candidate for relocation is young, career-driven and has limited family obligations.

“This differs from mid-career employees who are more likely to seek out opportunities to be a ‘business traveller’ and travel for work rather than relocate full-time,” Mr Ulloa said.

“There is now a greater demand for an internationally mobile workforce than at any other time in history, but our new research shows that enticing talented staff to move overseas requires more than just an increase in pay.”

“Job security – specifically a guarantee that you can move back to your current role after a few years and family concerns – such as airline tickets for family visits and immigration assistance for spouses and children - continue to be the most important factors.”

“Twice as many employees would relocate if their employer would offer their spouse employment.”

“Paid language training is viewed by employees as equally enticing with 36% ranking it as their most popular incentive to move.”

Australia is number three on the most desired country to relocate to (19%) - jointly tied with the UK. The United States was the most popular (30%) followed by Canada (22%).

Employees from Africa and the Middle East now prefer Australia more than they did five years ago with 26% nominating it as their preferred destination – an increase of 6%.

Professionals from Asia-Pacific are most likely to choose the United States (36% - down 1%) followed by Canada 23% (up 2%) and the United Kingdom 23% (up 1%), as their preferred destination.

“Historically, the main concern for employers has been the cost of moving an employee abroad, with issues ranging from reconciling tax and payroll issues to compensation incentives and assignment structuring,” Mr Ulloa said.

“From an Australian perspective, for some professions, it is far easier to move than for others. For example recruiting an early career Radiation Oncologist from overseas, whilst appealing given perceived shortages in the private sector, can be tricky as there is a need to retrain and achieve local accreditation that can take a significant amount of time. This can present some barriers to mobility. “

“Organisations need to consider multiple sources for supply of talent and understand the barriers for entry that may exist for some professional roles.”

“Carried out from the employee’s point of view, BDO’s report is unique in that it helps employers better understand the thoughts and feelings of current and potential employees who are looking into career opportunities that require relocation. The survey may help alleviate some employer concerns and encourage the right employee to make the move.”

“The report highlights that factors beyond employers’ control, such as government policy – specifically relating to health care, immigration and social security - have come to play a bigger role than before in professionals’ decision to relocate. The USA continues to be the top choice for relocation, though significantly less employees want to relocate to the US compared to 2012. This might signal a new trend.”

To read the Global Mobility Study: Perceptions of employee mobility in a climate of change visit BDO Global.