New global markets dominate foreign assignments for UK employers

Article date: 26 June 2012

  • 58% of UK employers with staff working abroad are developing opportunities in emerging economies
  • 68% describe relocating staff as challenging

UK employers are looking further afield to exploit new business opportunities in the globalised marketplace, according to latest research* from Aviva. The survey finds that 58% of employers sending staff overseas are posting employees to new locations, with the emerging "BRIC"** economies such as China (41%), India (41%) and Russia (25%) featuring prominently on the list of destinations.

International assignments are on the increase
One in five employers (21%) say that they’ve sent more employees abroad over the past few years. A further 13% are looking to increase the number of staff they send on overseas assignments. The research reveals that macro-economic issues have prompted businesses to consider international opportunities. Over half (55%) of companies are targeting new markets to expand their business. Meanwhile 29% believe they can make more money in overseas markets.

A challenging process
Despite an appetite to increase global workforces, an overwhelming 68% of employers describe the re-location process as challenging, with 60% saying that different rules and regulations in relation to issues such as health provision cause them the biggest headache.

Protecting employees’ health is key
Although half (50%) of employers admit that they struggle to get their rewards package right, Aviva’s research reveals that a key priority is protecting employees’ health and wellbeing. Over half (57%) say that they want to know that their staff can access medical support when they need it – and that treatment is paid for (43%).

Three quarters (75%) of employers include international health insurance as part of their relocation package; placing it the second most offered benefit behind housing (78%).  Other widely offered benefits include paying expenses (72%), arranging schooling (52%) and life insurance (40%).

Despite this support, over half of employers (51%) have seen international assignments fail. The trend towards relocating employees to more culturally diverse countries could further increase the challenges employers’ face – especially considering that the two main reasons for employees returning home are cultural (37%) and language (26%) barriers.

Teresa Rogers, business lead, international, Aviva, UK Health says: “Relocation is not an easy task and staff rely on their employers to give them the appropriate support to make their relocation a success.

“International private medical insurance gives employees the peace of mind that they can access medical support whenever they need it. However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact many assignments fail because employees don’t have the emotional support they need to help them settle into a new culture. Giving workers access to additional services such as 24-hour access to a doctor and specialist counselling support can make all the difference.

“It’s crucial that companies appreciate that not all products on the market are the same and we would encourage them to do the necessary research to ensure that they buy the right cover to suit an employee’s individual needs and circumstances.” 

Aviva’s International Solutions customers have access to a range of additional benefits such as StandbyMD, which gives customers 24-hour access to a doctor. Aviva has also recently partnered with PPCW to offer its customers an employee assistance service at preferential rates.
Cover is available to both individual and corporate customers and its modular structure enables customers to tailor their benefits to complement different health systems around the world, meaning staff can ensure they have the right package to suit their needs. This includes flexing product benefits to complement health systems in different regions and ensuring compliance in areas such as the UAE.
The Aviva relocation trend report canvassed the views of employers and their employees on issues relating to international relocation. The results provide a snapshot of current issues and concerns relating to international assignments. The full report will be published by Aviva over the next few months. 


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:
Melissa Loughran
Aviva Press Office
Telephone: +44 (0)1904 452791 / +44 (0)7800 691947

Notes to editors:

* Aviva commissioned extensive research among a panel of 230 UK adults who work in a company over 1,000 in charge of sending employees to offices abroad. The sample is broadly representative of the UK across age, gender and region. Employers were interviewed between 12-23 April 2012. The research was conducted online on behalf of Aviva by independent research company One Poll.  

** Brazil, Russia, India, China.

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