Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is HR About to End Your Overseas Assignment?

International assignments are expensive, so when economic times are tough, they’re an easy target for cut-backs.

That’s why 42 percent of 100 human resources professionals recently surveyed by the International Executive Services (IES) practice of KPMG said they were reviewing those programs with an eye toward cost reductions.

If you want to live in Paris at some point during your accounting career, take heart in the fact that companies are still just thinking about the issue. KPMG found 51 percent had not made any substantive changes to their programs in the last six months and 46 percent did not plan to make any changes within the next year.

"HR professionals need to underscore the value of international assignments to leadership and remind organizations that they continue to have legitimate reasons to invest in their people and their business,” said Achim Mossmann, managing director of Global Mobility Advisory Services in KPMG LLP's IES practice. “They play a vital role in illustrating how quick decisions to cut costs may have a negative impact on the long-term business goals of an organization."

Other key HR areas that organizations are reviewing for both potential budget cuts and cost savings include recruiting (45 percent), and bonus pools (43 percent).

Of the organizations that did make changes to their international assignment programs in the past six months, 23 percent said they had recalled existing assignees. Within the next year, 15 percent said they plan to take similar action.

If your company is considering recalling you and you’d like to stay, make your business case. Point out the short-term cash impact of paying to bring your whole family home, the cost of covering any tax liabilities that repatriation would incur, and the cost of sending you back overseas when the economy improves.

Also, consider arguing that the company needs you where you are. "They [companies] need to maintain contact with assignees to keep them informed of any program changes and swiftly address any rumors they may hear, while also working to determine that the international assignment program's compensation philosophy remains intact," Mossmann says.

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