Targeting Millennials for International Assignments

Why global relocations can be a win-win for employers and Gen Y.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 3 min read
millennials want international experience, targeting millennials for international assignments

Are you finding more and more millennials are volunteering for international assignments? Well, if so, you may not be alone. Executives at Chicago-based RELO Direct report that they’re seeing an increasing number of these younger workers seeking out these posts. In fact, the firm has even gone so far as to put a label on them: “hand-raisers.”

Roughly 70 percent of those on international assignments today are between the ages of 40 and 49, says Dianne Amos, senior vice president of client relations at RELO Direct, which provides relocation services. “But the trend is now moving to that next younger tier worker.

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“Millennials want that international experience and are willing to go on a short-term project assignment to get it,” she says.

A 2017 study by MoveHub offers further evidence of this trend. Roughly 60 percent of the 20,000 millennials surveyed said they have inquired about moving abroad. Their reasons for wanting to move abroad included the opportunity to experience a different culture and have access to better jobs and salaries.

Employers, meanwhile, are increasingly embracing this workforce segment as they seek to fill these posts, observes RELO Direct President and CEO Bob Portale. “The policies that they are creating and putting in place reflect their desire to recruit that type of talent,” including their use of more flexible programs aimed at addressing the needs of this generation.

Portale suggests that a key driver here is cost-savings. Naturally.

Depending on the life of the assignment and type of assignee, Portale says, a comprehensive international relocation could run hundreds of thousand—if not millions—of dollars. In contrast, he says, rotational assignments targeted at millennials typically have benefits and compensation caps, are lump-sum-driven and include benefits that are self-managed, thereby resulting in much lower costs.

Atlas Van Lines’ 2018 Corporate Relocation Survey of 435 corporate relocation professionals supports this shifting employer mindset. Among companies relocating talent globally, the percentage of people age 35 or younger moving abroad climbed from 38 percent to 42 percent of the transfers at mid-size organizations and from 31 percent to 34 percent of the transfers at large organizations over the past year. At smaller organizations, the percentage increased from 43 percent to 47 percent over that period.

Shedding more light on what’s motivating millennials to seek out these assignments, a 2017 Mercer survey found that the most common reasons include career development/opportunities (98 percent), discovering new countries and cultures (61 percent), learning/studies (32 percent), higher compensation (27 percent) and family (3 percent).

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As for why millennials might be such a good fit for these positions, FIDI, a global alliance of professional international moving and relocation companies, shared a few possibilities in a post appearing on its website.

First, the post says, their entrepreneurial mindset can be a major asset. It notes that millennials see enormous value in their global assignments and the ability to learn new skills.

Second, it says, they are comfortable with technology, thereby making it easier for organizations to stay connected with them. “One of the key reasons for expat failure is a sense of disconnection from the main hub of the company, but technology can help bridge this gap.”

Third, it continues, they are more likely not to have ties—spouses, children, home ownership, etc.—that could create obstacles for such an assignment.

Combined, these points would suggest this is a trend that may not let up any time soon.

 

David Shadovitz is editor of HRE. He is also co-chair of the HR Tech Conference and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. He can be reached at [email protected]

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