3 Non-commercial Reasons Why Talents Look for Global Assignments

A competitive compensation package with all the lucrative perks will always be attractive to any topnotch talent you as a global mobility manager would want to recruit. But — and this goes against decades of expatriate employment practices — that is not all that the assignees of today are looking for.

Listen closely to some of the important items on their must-have list during your interview. Work-life balance, social responsibility, and telecommuting are just some of the non-negotiables.

To attract these top talents, it is vital to understand the non-commercial, non-financial motivations that fuel their drive to land an international assignment.

Reason #1:  It’s the experience

The younger talents of today — millennials and Gen-Zers value the journey more than the destination, which is in total contrast to how their more elderly predecessors behaved a generation ago.

To give an example: the Gen-X and Baby Boomer expatriates would look at their new city of employment as their home base for the next five to ten years. They would prepare how to grow roots in it, immerse their families in the local communities, and deliver a superlative performance that would increase their pay, perks, and perhaps even their retirement fund.

In contrast, today’s assignees see their next assignment as just another stop in a long and wonderful trip. They are not settling down, but would like to accumulate — and enjoy — as many experiences as they can put on their resumes and social media.

The more diverse and exciting the adventure, the more attracted they will be to the assignment. For example, a chance to explore rarely visited jungles in Latin America or the opportunity to ride a yak or two in Tibet would definitely stoke their interest.

Reason #2:  The chance to teach — and learn from — their counterparts in other countries

Again, this preference is a stark contrast to previous expatriate practices.

As Learn Light points out, it used to be that foreign nationals, especially those in the executive level, were looked up to as gurus and mentors who would pass on their superior western-educated knowledge to the locals.

These days, assignees see knowledge transfer as more of an exchange among equals, instead of a hierarchical top-down form of education. Assignees are more than eager to share their skills and knowledge with their new colleagues in their new city of employment, but they also want to learn first-hand the nuances of culture or the foreign business etiquette that governs a particular country’s workplace.

They want to find out, for example, the best way to gain the trust of a Japanese partner or win the respect of the community who lives near the new tech hub they are building in India. While they can always do a search on these topics, nothing still beats truths and insights handed down to them by the locals who do live in those countries.

Reason #3:  The desire to make a significant contribution to the city or region they are living in

This is something that the global mobility manager can immediately spot in assignees who work in Northern California, for example. These foreign nationals wake up charged every day, believing that their work will impact in a positive way the lives of hundreds of thousands of people on this planet.

The same holds true for many young assignees today. That’s why they ask detailed questions about the current corporate social responsibility programs of their new employer, whether it’s building a library for underprivileged kids or planting trees near farming towns. Once their questions are satisfied — and they see value in the programs — chances are, they sign up as volunteers.