In June of 2018, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a survey analysis indicating a decline in the desire to work abroad. Of those who responded to the survey, 57% said they would move to another country for work and, while that may seem like a reasonably high number, it is seven percentage points lower than when the same question was asked in 2014. But why the drop? The analysis, “Decoding Global Talent,” suggests heightened nationalism, tightening trade and immigration policies, Brexit, and refugee crises could be possible explanations for this downward trend.
BCG weighed in: "It could be that the world is becoming less mobile. Or it could be that work itself is becoming more global, making it unnecessary for people to uproot their lives to find satisfying, well-paying jobs."
But, the desire to work abroad can’t be declining everywhere, right? Right. While overall global willingness is declining, there are countries like Brazil and India, the U.S. and the UK, and even the entire continent of Africa, where willingness to work abroad is growing. Certainly, the expat worker is not a thing of the past, but with these statistics in mind, perhaps companies should be taking a closer look at why people do want to go abroad, and who are the more likely and willing employees.
In the past, per AXA PPP International, the top three reasons for taking an international assignment have been, “better career opportunity, increased pay and benefits and improved work-life balance." However, according to BCG that has changed. Now, the primary reasons people are willing to consider an international move is for better career opportunities and a better standard of living. BCG also notes, single people with no children are more likely to take on a cross-border assignment. If your company is having difficulties getting employees to move abroad, these are things you need to consider.
Ask yourself: How can we create excitement amongst our employees about the possibility of expatriation? How can we fuel their desire to work abroad? How can we make the process most comfortable and enjoyable for them?
There is a lot to unpack in the report. Download the full report here.
With all of this in mind, The Boston Consulting Group and the online international recruitment company The Network have joined together to create one of the largest surveys ever of labor trends and work preferences—366,000 people in 197 countries. (See Exhibits 1 and 2 to understand the survey scope and participants’ backgrounds.) Open the exhibit in a new window In taking this comprehensive approach—and by comparing our findings with those of our previous study in 2014—we set out to understand what has changed about people’s job preferences and attitudes toward mobility.