Globally mobile workforce still a critical priority

Sep 14 | 2017

Business leaders still view an international mobile workforce as key to meeting their strategic objectives, according to new research by Santa Fe Relocation Services.

This is despite mounting concerns around immigration and an increasingly uncertain geopolitical climate following changes implemented by the new US administration and the anticipated impact of Brexit.

Santa Fe’s 7th annual Global Mobility Survey Report ‘Embedding Business Strategy in Global Mobility’, which surveyed nearly 1,000 global mobility teams and business leaders in 56 countries, found over a third (35%) of business leaders still believe empowering a globalised workforce was critical to meeting its strategic objectives – with 96% saying it is important.

As a result, international assignments (work relocation opportunities) are expected to grow significantly over the next twelve months, with graduate programmes, short-term assignments and one-way relocations all set to increase significantly. Contrary to previous years, even long-term assignments are expected to see significant growth (17%) in the year ahead, which highlights both ongoing global economic growth and the crucial role that long-term placements have in companies’ talent planning.

However, businesses are facing increased challenges in sending workers abroad due to growing complications around stringent immigration compliance and new legislation. The findings from Santa Fe reveal half of global mobility professionals cite immigration complications as the top challenge to achieving businesses’ objectives over the next five years – ahead of concerns around local political climates (42%) and staff safety or security (37%).

The USA now tops the charts for the most challenging location to send assignees, with nearly one in ten respondents stating it is the hardest to navigate from a global mobility perspective due to tightening immigration and visa restrictions for long-term 

business relocations.

But despite these challenges, the USA still remains the most common destination to send assignees, with nearly a fifth (18%) of respondents saying it was the most frequent destination for assignment opportunities - up from 16% in 2016. China was the second most popular at 11% (down from 12% in 2016), followed by the UK at 8% (up from 7% in 2016).  

“Over the past year, we have witnessed exceptional levels of change and political uncertainty across the globe,” said Dr Barbara Zesik, Chief People Officer for Santa Fe Relocation Services. “However, seemingly unfazed by the increasingly protectionist rhetoric, business leaders continue to recognise the importance of fostering a diverse and globally mobile workforce to support long-term business success and performance.”

The report found that over half a million (500,000) employees from the companies surveyed are already internationally mobile.

The research was conducted by Circle Research among 929 global mobility professionals from 56 countries, as well as 55 business leaders at organisations with 

a global mobility function from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Belgium, Poland, the USA and Canada.

For a full version of the report, visit:

Photo: Dr Barbara Zesik, Chief People Officer for Santa Fe Relocation Services.

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