15 Sep


Multinational companies relocating their senior talent to Australia are at risk of wasting millions of dollars and reducing business productivity if the relocations fail.

Up to $450,000 of an executive’s package can be spent on the cost of the move. These costs to cover the move itself, school fees, accommodation allowances and travel can quickly mount up.

According to the latest Ernst & Young Global Mobility Survey, 65% of international relocations fail or result in early repatriation. The majority of these are due to personal reasons, for example the spouse or family having difficulty settling in, often the result of inadequate preparation and the stress of having to handle many of the logistics themselves.

Global relocations expert, Sharon Swift, says that it is crucial for businesses to understand the personal upheaval that an international relocation can have on executive talent and their families. Swift’s own move to Sydney was her 18th international relocation, and proved to be an unexpected struggle. 

Having helped to relocate dozens of families to Australia, Swift has witnessed the devastation that can result when a spouse or children have difficulty settling into life in Australia: depression, family breakdowns, and early assignment termination.

In the past year, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship estimates that 17,000 highly paid professionals entered Australia from the UK. The failure of even 5% of this intake would cost businesses $380million.

Swift says that it is essential that companies provide a professional service to plan and manage the move on behalf of, and in cooperation with, the family. “International moves are fraught with anticipatory stress, complex emotions and loneliness, but with the right information and support, it doesn’t have to be that way”.

The process starts well before the planning of the relocation, helping the family to understand what they should be thinking about for the move. “Delicate management of expectations is the crucial first step of a successful relocation” says Swift. This is followed by ongoing assistance with orientation and hands-on support, everything from setting up home to finding schools for their children, to cultural awareness training and help with establishing a lifestyle routine.

Addressing these issues drastically reduces the isolation felt by the spouse, and helps the whole family settle into life and a routine at a similar pace. This can take a typical family up to 6 months, or longer. “It is this constant support that can be the difference between a relocation success or a relocation failure,” says Swift.

Founder and Managing Director of The Expat Concierge, Swift has developed a unique approach to managing executive relocations, which she details in her book So, you’re moving to Australia? The 6 essential steps to moving Down Under.

Australia’s critical skills shortage is threatening to slow growth in many sectors, leading to an increased number of companies looking overseas to fill the gap. Britons form the largest proportion of senior talent imported into Australia, with reports indicating that this is forecast to continue.

In a constantly shifting global landscape, fierce competition for the best talent will continue. According to the PwC 15th Annual CEO Survey, “Mobility is increasingly recognised as playing an important role in attracting, retaining and engaging talent”. Encouraging staff with the right skills to mobilise must come with adequate support for the family. 

Posted in General by Sharon Swift

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