KPMG's Ben Garfunkel and Achim Mossmann share trends and insights on how global companies manage their international assignment programs, as highlighted by KPMG's 2015 Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey.
Achim Mossmann: The GAPP survey has been published now for 17 years. We cover a lot of global mobility policy and process questions in the survey, and it really allows the clients to review their own policies and their program and to get benchmark data.
DATA AND ANALYTICS
Ben Garfunkel: Data and analytics is a terminology used quite a bit in business today. And for mobility program managers, they face the same challenges that other pieces of the business are facing, which is how to use the data that they have available and how to correlate it against other types of data to make meaningful insights and make business decisions that are smart and driven off the back of the data.
Achim: One of the organizations I work with―they get a lot of data on international assignments. They get data on when an assignee starts, when an assignee ends, and subsequently, out of their HR database, they get information on how an assignee progresses within their career. So ultimately, the question is, "Does the international assignment positively―or hopefully not negatively―impact career development.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Ben: Around maximizing return on investment, one of the things we're seeing now is companies spending more time and energy around selection of candidates through use of assessment tools―trying to pick the right candidates, to support them properly through the assignment, and hopefully, if they do all of that correctly, they'll see a higher retention rate after they return from the assignment.
Achim: Where in the past, organizations had pretty standard long- and short-term policies, now you see organizations implement much more flexible policies. They may have policies with a core component and flexible benefit components, so that allows the business to address individual business―as well as employee―needs.
Ben: The definition of family has certainly evolved over the last couple of years, and companies need to change their policies and processes to follow along.
Achim: How do companies address that? One way is actually really broadening the definition of family and providing assignment allowance and benefits and support not only to the traditional spouse―the trailing spouse―but also to these broader definitions…male and female couples that are not legally married, but still ultimately fall under the definition of family, as well as same-gender couples who go on international assignments.
Ben: Another interesting thing is―the definition of the family―we always look at it through a very Western lens of “a couple and children.” In many other cultures around the world, there is a much more extended-family type of definition. And in order to get someone to accept an assignment, family issues beyond just the immediate family―or the nuclear family―need to be addressed.
GLOBAL MOBILITY TRENDS TO EXPECT
Achim: I think we will see in the next five to 10 years continued focus on risk management and compliance. Organizations are very aware of the visibility that their expatriate or globally mobile employee population creates in host- and home-countries.
Ben: Tax authorities and immigration authorities around the world are continuing to be very vigilant in the enforcement of their rules. That's not going to let up, so companies need to really focus on their compliance and take it very, very seriously.
UPGRADED SURVEY PLATFORM COMING SOON
Ben: We're really excited about the new survey. It's a new platform and it's going to allow us more flexibility to provide different cuts of data for the users of the survey, whether it's by assignment type, geography, or industry. It will make the survey much more useful than it ever has been.
Achim: We expect that to be rolled out in the fall of this year, so by October/November, please expect an e-mail from us to participate in the survey. We will have a complete refresh and will provide all survey participants with a copy of the survey.
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The information contained herein is of a general nature and based on authorities that are subject to change. Applicability of the informaton to specific situations should be determined through consultation with your tax adviser.