Alternative International Assignments Survey

2020 edition launches in September

The 2020 edition of the Alternative International Assignments Survey (AIA), launching in the first half of September, will continue our research into the use of short-term assignments, one-way transfers, and commuter assignments. It will explore trends, management, and policies and practices that companies have put in place to effectively move talent on a short-term, permanent, or commuting basis. Since we introduced the AIA in 2013, these “alternative” assignment types have matured in their roles for meeting global staffing needs and have grown as prevalent as traditional long-term assignments. In the 2020 edition, participants will be able to provide data for  as many STA policies as their companies use. Participants in the 2018 edition will receive a link to their pre-completed data to simplify updating it for 2020.

A closer look at prevalent alternatives to long-term international assignments

The Alternative International Assignments Policies and Practices Survey (AIA) offers an in-depth look into policies and practices governing alternative types of international assignments. In 2018, we looked at:

  • Permanent / One-way Transfers
  • Talent Development
  • Short-term
  • Commuter

Data analyzed

For each assignment type, the survey examines:

  • Recent trends
  • Policy and administration
  • Compensation approach
  • Living costs
  • Tax
  • Housing and utilities policies
  • Mobility incentives and Hardship
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Travel and home leave
  • Flexible benefits and lump sums
  • Other support
  • Benefits

Notable trends in 2018

Most reported challenge by assignment type:

  • Permanent transfers – Salary and benefits package in host location          
  • Short-term – Cost containment
  • Commuters – Tax and social security compliance
  • Talent development – Return on investment
  • International business travelers - Immigration and tax and social security compliance

More than 60% allow families to visit short-term assignees in lieu of home leave. A majority of respondents do not allow assignees to spend home leave in a location other than the ‘home location.’

On the rise, compared with previous survey results, more companies:

  • Have a formal policy for permanent transfers (up 8%) and plan to develop a formal commuting policy
  • Provide a home-finding trip to permanent transfers (up to 10%)
  • Consider governmental tax-free per diem limits when setting their per diem/daily allowance for commuters
  • Consider governmental tax-free per diem limits when setting their per diem/daily allowance for commuters (65%).

Flexible benefits are (still) rarely used in policies for alternative assignments. 20% offer them to one-way transfers, but less than 5% to commuters.

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