Expatriate Hiring Stalls

Nov. 12, 2009
Companies cited operations functions as their No. 1 reason for hiring outside the United States.

Most U.S.-based companies that operate abroad have maintained their current expatriate workforce levels or decreased them in response to the global economic downturn, according to survey results from human-resources consulting firm Sibson Consulting. Nearly half (47%) of 99 respondents across various industries said they are keeping their foreign workforce levels the same.

Meanwhile, 35% of respondents surveyed in the summer of 2009 say they are decreasing their number of expatriates. Manufacturing comprised the largest industry response group in the survey at 29%. Sibson cites several emerging trends that companies are following to cut costs associated with employing foreign workforces, including reducing the number or length of international assignments, hiring more local talent, and implementing new compensation plan strategies for expatriates, such as variable pay.

Respondents cited operations functions as their No. 1 reason for hiring outside the United States. Research and development, legal, and finance also ranked high. The top skill sets companies seek in foreign workforces include business/industry knowledge, leadership ability and technical skills.

The Sibson report concluded that the days of high-cost expatriate compensation packages are likely gone as foreign talent in developing countries is no longer in short supply and in high demand.

Organizations Expected Use of Expatriates as the Economy Recovers

  • Increase -- 25%
  • No Change -- 54%
  • Decrease -- 21%

Source: Sibson Consulting's Full 2009 Expatriate Talent Marketing Trends Survey

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About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Former Managing Editor

Former Managing Editor Jon Katz covered leadership and strategy, tackling subjects such as lean manufacturing leadership, strategy development and deployment, corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, and growth strategies. As well, he provided news and analysis of successful companies in the chemical and energy industries, including oil and gas, renewable and alternative.

Jon worked as an intern for IndustryWeek before serving as a reporter for The Morning Journal and then as an associate editor for Penton Media’s Supply Chain Technology News.

Jon received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Kent State University and is a die-hard Cleveland sports fan.

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