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CIGNA Releases Global Mobility Trends Survey 2015

November 2015

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2015_10_Cigna-Expat-SurveyIn November 2015 Cigna released its Global Mobility Trends Survey, updating the 2013 edition. The survey, conducted between April and June 2015, included 2700 expatriate respondents on assignment in 156 countries.

Key findings:

  • Global mobility appears to be evolving into a career unto itself.
  • Expats say they need more communication and support, but employers are viewed as moving in the opposite direction.
  • Expats want more assistance with local culture and lifestyle – ideally from other colleagues with prior experience of expatriation.
  • Employers are managing costs more closely – occasionally resulting in benefit reductions for their globally mobile staff.
  • Expats are aware that their employers must balance the considerable costs of mobility programs with the demand for globally mobile talent.
  • While social media use continues to grow, 57% of employees state they value employer sponsored resources over others. Nevertheless, nearly half of survey respondents lack the awareness of employer-sponsored online resources, or state their employer doesn’t offer them.
  • Disconnects on repatriation persist – slightly more than half of expats say their employer has a formal repatriation program – while most employers report they offer one.
  • Most expats hail from North America, but their numbers are down 10% from just two years ago (and down 24% from 2001). Globalization is a likely factor – but this may also reflect ongoing trends among employers to use fewer U.S. expats due to cost and taxation considerations.

And here is a focus on the communications aspect of handling expatriations:

  • Nearly 40% respondents received only one communication prior to departure, and nearly a third received two to three.
  • Over 75% received information about their global mobility program benefits during their assignment; of this group, one in four received messages on a quarterly basis.
  • Email and phone calls with HR/global mobility representatives were the top two forms of communication with 90% and 70%, respectively, indicating that more formalized tools such as booklets or web pages on internal websites are rarely used.

Compliance and logistics of the assignment were two of the most common topics for pre-assignment communications, while messages about local culture, lifestyle and emergencies were fewer. It is also important to note from respondents that having an experienced guide who had the same, or similar, assignment location to aid the expat throughout the assignment was a positive.

The full survey is available for download on Cigna’s website . The corresponding press release is available here.


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