What is the recipe for a successful assignment?

Is Global Mobility management out of step with global workforce needs?

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A quick update on immigration changes since 1 July (notable items being increases in application fees, changes to working holiday visas, subclass 870 sponsored parent temporary applications now open)

Followed by a tax discussion on whether living in multiple overseas locations break Australian tax residency - case FCT vs Handsley case was briefly touched on. More on single touch payroll and ATO guidelines that have been issued and lastly legislation to deny CGT main residence exemption for foreign nationals discussed. 

The rest of the session focused on what makes a successful assignment and in particular, why assignments fail and how this can be prevented.

International SOS presented research studies, some with data collected over many years. Some highlights:

  • Cross industry studies have estimated that assignment failure, defined as the premature return from an assignment at between 25-40% when the expatriate is assigned to a developed country and at 70% when the expatriate is assigned to a developing country.
  • 43% of all medical cases happen in low to medium risk countries.
  • 82% of organisations do not provide mental health screenings for family members of international assignees (and often do not provide it to the assignees themselves) pre and post assignment.
  • Mental health issues are the 3rd most common issue for evacuations and early returns after injuries and gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Failed assignments can cost companies in excess of $950,000. 
  • Importantly, taking a preventative approach to assignment risk can create substantial savings for every dollar invested.

We discussed whether GM management was out of step with global workforce needs. The cost cutting since the mining bust may have gone too far.

We also heard from those in the room who have been the assignee and what they thought their organisations did or didn’t do to set them up for success. It was clear that assignment preparation and planning strategies including the adoption / uptake on cultural briefings were not being implemented and yet, the International SOS research indicated these should be part of risk mitigation strategies.



Aysegul Kayahan

Director, Relocation Specialists

Aysegul Kayahan, managing director of Relocation Specialists in Queensland and Victoria has been in the global mobility industry since 1993. Aysegul started the Forum for Expatriate Management community in Australia in early 2012, with chapters in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. From February 2015 to January 2017, Aysegul was appointed to the role of global chair of Chapter Leads for the Forum for Expatriate Management.

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