Expat assignments are a costly and complex change process. In 2011, companies spent about $9.3bn on domestic and international relocations in the USA alone. That makes it comparable to the American plastic surgery ($10bn) and the Chinese gaming industry ($9.7bn). An organization will likely spend four to five times the annual salary for every person they send abroad. Support services including pre-departure readiness assessments, cross-cultural training, language classes, home visits, and coaching amount to under 5 % of total relocation cost. I've written about it before and presented at FIGT (http://www.buildingthelifeyouwant.com/choosing-the-right-expat-support-for-every-budget/)
It appears companies are beginning to recognize that these “soft” services have a hard impact on the bottom line.
According to the Brookfield 2012 Global Relocation Trends Survey, “Respondents indicated that 6 % of assignments fail. (Author’s note: Continuing from our numbers above, that’s a $558m loss every year in the US alone.) Top causes for failure are the employee leaves to work for another company; spouse/partner dissatisfaction; other family concerns; and the job does not meet expectations.”
The top reason for early returns are family concerns: one in three expats (33 %) does not complete their assignment due to, for example, family members not adjusting to the new culture. Companies are trying to improve ROI though “better candidate selection/assessment; career-path planning to utilize cross-border skills upon return; more effective communication of assignment objectives; better assignment preparation; and mandatory cross-cultural preparation”. (http://knowledge.brookfieldgrs.com/content/insights_ideas-2012_GRTS)
These and similar surveys have been showing the same trends over the last 20+ years: to help ensure you don't lose money on international assignments, take care of the whole family. Making cross-cultural preparation mandatory is a step in the right direction.
What would it take to add personality type-aware coaching to the mix?