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Is Global Mobility Losing Popularity?

Taking a global assignment has been considered a stepping stone to moving up within the organization, but apparently some who have taken that step are having doubts.

A recent survey from Cigna, the health insurance carrier, reports that globally mobile employees see themselves as less satisfied than workers who reside in their home country (and who have chosen to bypass overseas assignments).

Two of the main reasons for that scenario are a loss of family time and support, and the financial consequence and availability of medical care in the event of major illness.  Regarding the latter, the Cigna survey, 2017 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey – Globally Mobile Individuals, found that 40 percent reported having no company medical benefits at all. For the survey, Cigna interviewed 2,003 globally mobile individuals online (ages 25-59) who are working in markets outside of their birthplace across 20 markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and the United States.

Hard data for globally mobile individuals on Cigna’s favorability index across all categories is 61.5 points, 1.8 points lower than their stay-at-home counterparts. The most dramatic score difference came in family well-being, which was 9.4 points lower for globally mobile workers.

“The results show that globally mobile individuals are more concerned than the general working population about their own health and well-being, and that of their families,” said Jason Sadler, president, Cigna International Markets, in a press release.

Sadler added that without exception, this group is worried about the consequences of personal or family member illness; an issue compounded by the gap in employer-provided health benefits.

It isn’t all bad news. The Cigna survey also found that there is an upside to taking a global assignment, mainly “international exposure, the opportunity to accumulate wealth, better career prospects, good working hours and positive relationships with co-workers” as positive outcomes aspects of the experience.

Even so, the anxiety driven by healthcare concerns is real, Cigna found.

“The survey shows health benefits are a very important factor when deciding to take an overseas posting,” Sadler said. “There is a clear need for employers to pay attention to the health and well-being of their globally mobile employees.”