Singaporean Talent’s Willingness to Relocate

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made some recent comments about Singaporean talent’s willingness to relocate overseas, which can hinder their progress at multi-national or regional corporations.

According to Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study 2012, 22% of the workforce here indicated that they are open to relocating, regardless of the location. 61% said that they are open to relocating only to certain locations. And 17% said that they are not willing to relocate.  17% is not a huge number, if we put it in a global context. Globally, the study found 33% of the workforce does not want to relocate. And there could be several reasons why a person may not want to relocate e.g. family, lifestyle preferences etc. In fact, family / personal issues are cited as the top reason for overseas assignment failure across companies in Asia, Europe and US.

Given that 43% of the Asian companies are projecting an increase in overseas assignments through 2014, it is critical that such assignments are correctly positioned to the employees as a part of the total “deal”. Employees must be made to understand how such assignments contribute to their learning and growth, and how they prepare them for more significant roles in the future. At the same time, talent mobility teams in these organisations need to be prepared to address top concerns that employees might have on overseas postings such as cost of living differences, rewards alignment, relocation assistance etc.

Another issue that can come up is that of dual-career families – a situation in which one’s spouse may not want to relocate because it affects his / her career. A recent Harvard Business Review blog post talked about how Nestle is addressing this problem through its Self-Sustaining Dual Career Network. It is providing employees’ spouses relocation support, job assistance, facilitating entry into local networks  etc. and the program has achieved tangible success.

As an employee or an employer in Singapore, what has been your experience?

Disclaimer: Towers Watson is my employer. The views and opinions expressed on this site are my own alone and do not represent the views of my employer.

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