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4 reasons why global mobility assignments fail and how to overcome them

Exploring the actions your business can take to stop global mobility projects from derailing.

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Is your business thinking of engaging in global mobility assignments?

There are huge benefits to posting workers on international assignments. Once organisations diligently plan and overcome any issues that could potentially lead to projects unravelling, global mobility programs have been shown to have a positive return on investment rate of 78% according to employers surveyed in the EY 2023 Mobility Reimagined report.

Location reassignment projects not only appeal to and benefit businesses, but 93% of employees also reported that the opportunity to engage in an international assignment could be life-changing for both themselves and their families.

However, to reap the rewards of successful global mobility projects, organisations must be aware of what contributes to expatriate failure, which remains as high as 40% in some global regions.

Let’s look at four reasons why global mobility assignments fail, and the role organisations can play in overcoming them.

Where can global mobility assignments go wrong and how can your business overcome them?

1. Lack of employee mental health support

Relocating overseas can be a daunting experience and whilst organisations often have a rigorous onboarding process for helping employees physically relocate, mental health check-ins and support post-arrival can sometimes be overlooked.

There are plenty of areas workers may require additional support as part of the transition process, such as discussing their new workload or navigating interactions with their new colleagues.

How to overcome: Implementing a comprehensive support structure to include:

  1. Regular check-ins;
  2. Offering a mentoring system;
  3. Provide an online companywide community platform.

These support structures will allow employees to stay in contact with colleagues from their home country and give workers easy access to support and advice. Equally, it enables organisations to track the well-being of their employees and make necessary adjustments to support workers with any relocation struggles, which could otherwise lead to the employee withdrawing from the overseas assignment.

2.Difficulty adjusting to a new environment

Adjusting to a new environment takes time, but integration into a new society is important for expats’ well-being and life satisfaction. In circumstances where organisations have not put any training or resources in place to help employees and their families adjust to their new location, expatriate failure is far more likely.

Expatriate training is essential and according to a report by KPMG, only 38% of organisations with a remote global workforce provide services throughout the relocation process, such as offering cultural training for employees and their families. Lack of support in this area could result in misaligned expectations of what an overseas assignment entails.

How to overcome: Providing relocation services and training that will help expats integrate into their new lives abroad reduces the chances of social isolation, negative impacts on employee wellbeing, and global mobility projects unravelling.

Support such as cultural training, providing location-specific information about schools, doctors surgeries or public transport facilities, and access to language courses will help both the employee and their family to navigate their new lives.

3. Poor communication and planning

Poor communication and planning can determine the success of your organisation’s global mobility assignments. As cross-border workforces expand, clear and regular communication keeps all employees on track and aligned to the same goals.

In cases where international assignments are not well integrated with the wider company, they can unravel and impact the return on investment. Equally, minimal contact and lack of structure across a global remote workforce could lead to employees feeling demoralised or isolated.

How to overcome: Scheduling frequent meetings to maintain open lines of communication can help global mobility assignments remain integrated with the wider company.

Similarly, organisations may benefit from understanding how asynchronous working models can make regular communication more challenging and how it impacts remote teams. Establishing common working hours may prevent communication breakdown across international assignments.

The graph below demonstrates the importance of ensuring employees seconded on global assignments are aligned with wider company objectives, which contribute to successful, well-integrated global mobility programs.



Table: EY 2023 Mobility Reimagined Survey

4. Inadequate comprehensive global insurance

Global mobility assignments can fail when organisations have not provided comprehensive global health insurance policies to their overseas employees.

Businesses could incur financial burdens if they do not have the correct insurance policies to protect themselves or their employees if they become unwell or sustain an injury whilst working abroad. Equally, it could result in the early termination of international assignments and the repatriation of the affected employees.

How to overcome: For guidance on offering comprehensive global insurance policies that provide the highest level of protection, consider consulting with a professional services expert such as Mauve Group to ensure your organisation remains compliant and your global mobility assignments stay on track.

Consulting with a global expansion expert like Mauve can help your organisation successfully navigate global mobility assignments.

To find out how our local experts can provide relocation services, comprehensive global insurance coverage and advice on overseas employment,  get in touch.