Construction companies need to manage the growing impact of international mobility

    TORONTO, Oct. 10 /CNW/ - Over 90% of construction companies rank
'international mobility' - moving employees around the world for business
needs - as important to their company's success, according to
PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) latest survey of construction companies around
the world. All indications suggest that the trend for international mobility
is set to increase significantly, as construction companies in developed
markets currently suffer from slower economic conditions and as a result many
are looking to emerging markets, where more robust economies, substantial oil
revenues and major deficits in the existing infrastructure, spell opportunity.
    Competing in an international market and winning contracts overseas means
moving people around the globe - whether it be for a few weeks overseas to win
a contract or for many years in order to deliver work. The survey, of 24 major
construction companies in eleven countries, showed that nearly 70% of
respondents say that short-term construction projects are the main factor
driving international mobility initiatives. Furthermore it indicates that many
construction companies recognize the importance of international mobility and
of talent management to their business - but very few, if any, have developed
a systematic approach which links the two.
    "International mobility is very important to the success of construction
companies, both today and in the future," says Michael Clifford, Leader of the
PwC Canada Engineering and Construction practice. "But moving just one
employee from one location to another can be a time consuming, costly and
potentially risky business. There is seldom a sufficient level of experience
or capability within companies to identify, let alone deal with the breadth
and complexity of issues that arise. Our survey has highlighted that in
planning international assignments there is insufficient understanding of the
true cost, lack of a systematic approach and a lack of link up with the talent
management agenda."

    Challenges can include:

    -   Developing and implementing an effective policy for managing overseas
    -   Putting in place appropriate support in the host country for the
        assignee and their family once they arrive;
    -   Coping with a host of compliance obligations and risks, starting with
        immigration and ranging from tax and social security compliance
        issues to local employment regulations;
    -   Motivating and retaining employees who are assigned overseas;
    -   Making sure that the development of the company's talent does not
        stop when assignees are seconded overseas; and
    -   Managing the costs associated with international assignments.

    Many of the companies in the PwC survey operate in dozens of countries,
and for most the number of overseas assignees runs into the hundreds, and a
few companies are seeing their expat population number in the thousands. Most
said they either have a written International Assignment Policy or are in the
process of drafting one. Nearly all respondents report that complying with tax
and regulatory issues is very important to their company and tax compliance
for employer and employee topped their list of compliance issues.
    Most companies surveyed cover the cost of home leave travel, living
allowances, medical benefits and a relocation allowance for overseas workers
but many respondents didn't see cost as one of their top priorities. Over a
third don't actually estimate costs, and of those that do, many only use rough
'rule-of-thumb' estimates. A third of organizations surveyed said that
international assignments impacted on their retention.
    It is important to deal with the human issues around resettling,
incentivizing and providing sufficient recognitions to employees working in a
new environment. But only half of companies surveyed say they offer support
for employees around cultural integration in the host country. Worryingly 32%
of companies said they thought that an international assignment significantly
increases the chances of an individual leaving the company.
    Clifford notes, "Companies will need to increase their agility in order
to staff key projects appropriately. They will also need to ensure that out of
sight does not mean out of mind when it comes to top talent. And the task of
managing an expanding global mobile workforce will not be an easy one, as many
companies have already found."

    PricewaterhouseCoopers ( provides industry-focused assurance,
tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its
clients and their stakeholders. More than 154,000 people in 153 countries
across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop
fresh perspectives and practical advice. In Canada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
( and its related entities have more than 5,200 partners and
staff in offices across the country.
    "PricewaterhouseCoopers" refers to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario
limited liability partnership, or, as the context requires, the
PricewaterhouseCoopers global network or other member firms of the network,
each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.

For further information:

For further information: Carolyn Forest, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,
(416) 814-5730,; Nina Godard, PwC Management
Services LP, (416) 941-8383 x 15730,

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