Millennials: On the Move


Most information presented today regarding Millennials indicates that this is a population that has a global mindset and is largely open to adventure and new experiences, especially if they offer professional growth and interesting challenges.  If a company is concerned about retaining Millennial talent, investing in their professional growth is essential and should reap gains for the company as well.  Using strategic international assignments for developmental purposes is key to successful talent management and having a flexible relocation package to support these assignments is a clear competitive advantage for corporations today.


According PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace, 70 percent of Millennials want or expect an overseas assignment at some point in their careers. And with 1.8 billion Millennials predicted to make up 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020, employers need to ensure their relocation programs are attractive to this generation.


Many companies offer lump sum relocation packages, assuming the employee would rather self-manage their funds.  But a lump sum benefit without guidance in its proper usage, can be quickly spent on services and items that do little to assist the employee, and especially a spouse, in the cultural and professional adaptation to their new location.  Companies cannot assume that millennials know what to expect, or know how to manage a lump sum budget.  And because they are accustomed to being transparent in their social commentary, employers can expect that they will openly discuss and compare their experience with others.

Millennials who are married or in committed relationships are very concerned about their spouses/partners having support during the international assignment. Spouses/partners typically have a career path too and are reluctant to put their careers on hold or give up their dreams, even for a global move. The dual career issue is one that cannot be ignored, as one of the top reasons employees turn down assignments and/or have failed assignments is because of the spouse’s/partner’s career.


A recent Permits Foundation International Survey found that a lack of spouse or partner employment opportunities adversely affects the global mobility of highly skilled international employees. Survey data from 3300 accompanying spouses/partners confirmed that 25% of employees previously turned down an assignment or terminated an assignment early because of concerns about the partner’s employment or career. Almost 90% of spouses and partners were employed before expatriation. This figure fell to 35% during expatriation. Three-quarters of those who were not working wanted to work. This is particularly so among the younger age groups, men, graduates and unmarried partners.


Spouses who are working while on assignment are more likely to report a positive impact on their willingness to complete the current assignment than spouses who are not working. Almost 60% of respondents said that in future they would be unlikely to relocate to a country where it is difficult for a spouse or partner to get a work permit.


For the complete survey, you can click on this link.


One solution for improving acceptance and success rate of International assignments: ensure that mobility policies include support services for the accompanying spouse/partner. While 35% of organizations surveyed do not provide any type of assistance to accompanying spouses or partners whose careers are interrupted by the assignment (KPMG – Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey), 85% of spouses/partners surveyed said they would welcome support and information on local employment/career enhancement opportunities (e.g. paid, volunteer, self-employment, study) (Permits Foundation International Survey).


Lorraine Bello, GMS-T, is President and CEO of REA Partners in Transition. Lorraine brings more than 25 years’ experience in human resources management, organizational and career development, consulting and education to her role with REA. Certified to conduct a variety of leadership training programs, Lorraine holds membership in the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), Employee Relocation Council (ERC), NFTC, New Jersey Relocation Council (NJRC), National Association of Female Executives (NAFE), American Society of Training and Development, and the New Jersey Association of Women in Business. She also served two terms on the ERC’s Global Editorial Advisory Board of Mobility Magazine.


Paula Robb, GMS-T, is Vice President of Global Service Delivery for REA Partners in Transition.  As a former corporate Human Resources executive and entrepreneur, Paula has wide-ranging business acumen and brings results-oriented leadership to REA’s global operations.  She leads a world-wide team of coaches and business partners, consistently and effectively leveraging best practices and ensuring the continued development of leading-edge operational innovations. Her experience in Talent Management, Organization Development and Executive Coaching allows her to provide thought leadership as REA continues to successfully expand its global services and solutions.


Mary Roberts, MA, is an Account Executive for REA Partners in Transition.  She has delivered Spousal Assistance services for REA as a Professional Coach for over 10 years, while also managing several domestic teams of coaches.  She now brings her knowledge of REA’s programs and services to the business development side and offers training to business partners and client companies, while providing superior customer service to meet the needs and inquiries from existing accounts.  She is also a certified trainer with REA to deliver Mentoring Workshops focused on developing all those involved in a company’s mentoring program.