International Assignments: The Happiness of Your Employee’s Partner is Key

2.27.2020 | When mobile employees were asked, “How critical is the happiness of your partner to your success on assignment?” they indicated it was crucial.

According to the Relocating Partner Survey Report by EY and NetExpat, 97% of employees who were offered an international assignment discussed it with their partners before making a decision. Not only do partners impact the employee’s decision, but they can also determine the success of the assignment itself. Per the survey:

  • When an international assignment is declined, the most common reason is due to a partner who is not willing to move because of their career.
  • When an international assignment fails, the most common reason is due to an unhappy partner in the host location.

Dual Career Couples

Dual career couples continue to increase and 77% of partners are working before assignment. While the assignment may benefit the employee’s career, it may derail that of their partner. Over the years, the education level of relocating partners has significantly increased; 82% have a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD degree. Of mobile employees, 91% have similar degrees and both parties see each other as equals.

Partners Need to Acclimate, Too

According to the survey, “Partners expect to be supported to integrate more easily in the host location, rebuild their network, work or study while abroad or contribute to a voluntary organization.”

In response, providers have materialized to offer services such as partner coaching. Technology has followed suit with partner-oriented job search engines and social networks where relocating partners can connect virtually or face-to-face in their respective countries.

The “Partner Experience”

Inherently, mobility departments have catered to assignees; now, they are bringing partners into the fold. As the war for talent rages on and employers focus on the “employee experience” and the “candidate experience,” it makes even more sense. Companies must do what is needed to attract and retain employees. Today, 90% of international employers offer some type of partner support and these benefits include:

  • Intercultural training: 94%
  • Language support: 85%
  • Career and job search support: 71%
  • Acclimation support: 51%
  • Education support: 43%

Of the surveyed employers, 28% will increase partner benefits and no employers plan to decrease these benefits, which is compelling amid corporate pressure to reduce budgets.

Mobility departments know that improving “the partner experience” helps ensure successful international assignments. What’s more, 33% of employers say they have increased assignees’ job performance by offering partner support.

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