Experience or Remuneration?

What do the next generation of employee’s want out of an overseas assignment? In today’s global mobility landscape, millennials are quickly becoming an increasingly bigger portion of the workforce and talent pool of which organisations are able to select from. In a recent white paper by Deloitte it is noted that millennials will make up around 75 per cent of the workforce in the next five years. The majority of the individuals in this demographic are opting for experience over remuneration. Specifically, an overseas assignment.

There is an abundance of research indicating that millennials want challenge and flexibility in their work, as well as recognition for their efforts. On top of this, they value the employer brand, which includes opportunities for growth. They see this as something that holds incredible weight in their minds; and is seen, somewhat, as an extension of themselves. An overseas work placement presents itself to a millennial as an experience rather than a commodity. It also demonstrates to millennials that the organisation values their contribution—enough so that they are essentially provided with the opportunity to “prove themselves”. Millennials are not necessarily seeking to exchange their services for the sole purpose of remuneration, they want a commitment to their growth and development.

As a millennial myself, and an avid traveller, I have explored over 20 countries either through working, backpacking or simply holidaying. The true nature of these trips comes back to my passion for learning and openness to new experiences.  Exposure to the challenges and obstacles of an overseas assignment is often an already made decision in the minds of millennials. So what can organisations do to support this? To millennials, an expatriate experience is about seizing an opportunity to fully engage in the organisation they work for and learn about another country; to understand its culture, beliefs and even language. It is a fully fledged jump into the deep-end where they want to reach out to locals and other expatriates to learn how to swim rather thanrely ontheir close-knit, comfortable network of friends, family and colleagues at home.

It is an opportunity to gain emotional intelligence and to test their own resilience. It is their opportunity to demonstrate that they are worth every bit of time and money put into them; and it is their inspiration to remain loyal and dedicated to your organisation. It is gratefulness. There are limited opportunities within multinational organisations that offer up an expatriate opportunity to millennials. One could hazard many guesses as to the why. For the solution, there are many examples. Perhaps an overseas rotation-based graduate program? Or a future leadership program? These are not new things, simply adjusted talent acquisition and development initiatives aimed at meeting the changing desires of the workforce by placing them overseas instead of hosting them locally. In fact, I daresay this type of program would be held in great esteem to prospective candidates.

After all, who wouldn’t want to work for a company that sends their future leaders abroad right from the word go? Of course all of these ideas and perfect scenarios need certain things in place in order for them to work well and be achievable. In the next article I will explore what resources are available, or should be available, to optimise an expatriate experience from both the individual and organisation’s perspective.


Mark Latham

Mark Latham Mark was inherently born a global citizen. Humbling from Canada before moving to Australia from west to east; he also has UK citizenship through ancestry.  His passion for employee mobility has been driven from his extensive independent overseas travels across over four continents and 20 countries. Mark’s expertise is in the realm of coping with the return “home”. He has a deep understanding of the psychological obstacles that come with overcoming the post-assignment  struggles that many of us endure.

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