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What Matters Most to Partners and Families That Are Relocating?

Couple planning move and budget with computer

Mobility benefits matter. The package offered to support a relocation or assignment can make a huge difference in acceptance rates, employee experience, and overall program success. It’s good to continually review research and data that comes out to consider how your mobility program can go to the next level. In this “Relocating Partner Annual Report” from NetExpat and EY, which originally launched back in 2018, there is new info on what partners and families need and want from their mobility experience.

It appears that a greater number of programs have improved at supporting partners and families of mobile employees! This chart shows that the gap between how corporate mobility professionals rate the program versus how employees and partners rate it has closed, although there is still a difference between them.

Here are some of the key take-aways from this research:

  • Partner support: Looking at partner support, for example, only 31% of employees felt that employers were doing enough in 2018. This has jumped to 55% in 2023. According to this latest report, “The voice of the non-working partner has gained momentum and will continue to be seen and heard by employers…This has boosted the need for employers to not only be aware of the needs of non-working spouses but to also support their needs.”
  • Shifting generations: Millennials and Gen Z are seeing a shift in priorities for partners. Mobility programs need to consider the finding that younger generations find two incomes to be more even important than previous generations. These generations are expecting more support for their families.
  • DE&I: 41% of employers support relocating partners to enhance their DE&I agenda
  • Family priority: Three of the top six reasons for assignment rejection are directly related to family. “Where ten years ago 61% of businesses would use a cash allowance to attract partners, this has now dropped to 36%. In its place, we’re seeing an increase in direct support to the partner, with 69% of employers offering this and 51% offering integration support for non-working partners.”

  • Increased pre-decision consultation: This an emerging practice which shows great promise. These can be used to reassure the employee and their family before they make the decision to become mobile. Whether handled by internal HR assets or external providers, these are a great opportunity to proactively address common assignment rejection issues.
  • Mentoring connection and support: This is also seeing increased adoption as companies are increasingly offering support through a peer-to-peer system. Again, per the report, “For example, implementing a ‘buddy’ program is a perfect solution with double advantages. It leverages the current investment – and does not increase the cost of providing services. The interactions increase self-esteem and cultural awareness which creates a positive impact for both the family/partner and the buddy. As a result, helping others directly contributes to the well-being of the buddy.”
  • Failed assignments: Partner and family unhappiness is by far the #1 reason for failed assignment. In looking at how to help battle this unhappiness, partners and families are growingly supported by corporations through a range of support including Acclimation/integration Support, intercultural training which are both rising compared to 2018. All forms of Cash allowances and Education Allowance are losing popularity. This has resulted in an increase of positive assignment outcomes.

The report gives reinforcement for better imagining, defining, and addressing “duty of care.” While physical safety has always been a component of a quality mobility program, the family wellbeing has risen with regard to the need and the requirement to support. We’ll also leave you with one last chart for you to consider as you revisit your mobility programs in 2024:

This year, NetExpat and EY returned to update their findings. Sam Pinney, Director Benelux/ APAC Client services & Global Advisory for NetExpat said:

“Originally launched in 2018 by NetExpat, in partnership with EY, the Relocating Partner Survey is the most comprehensive benchmark survey ever conducted related to the spouses and partners of transferees. The 2023 survey leveraged the historical data from the last 5 years, along with new feedback from corporate HR representatives, mobile employees and their partners to showcase perspectives from these three different viewpoints.”

For the 2023 report, the team added in more topics to reflect the changing priorities within the industry.