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The latest must-have for young workers – a secondment to a dream destination



More than half of firms surveyed said employee retention rates had improved following the introduction of a relocation programme, “marking global mobility as an effective means of engaging employees and helping to combat burnout”.

For Ela Bayraktar, 29, who moved from Wrexham to Atlanta in the US on secondment last year, the desire to work abroad came not from burnout per se, but a desire for a “new challenge”.

“I wanted to travel and didn’t want to pause my career in the process, so when the opportunity came up with a company I trusted and that trusted me it was a no-brainer.”

Ms Bayraktar, who works for communications firm Moneypenny, has used her relocation to travel the US more cheaply, spending weekends in Chicago and Nashville.

She says: ”Being away from friends and family is hard, but I speak to them regularly on video and they have visited.”

Marion Devine, of The Conference Board Europe, the think tank, says opportunities to work abroad – either through short-term assignments or longer stints of between one and two years – are typically offered to millennials. But why?

“International experience is an indispensable way to broaden young leaders and to give them a better understanding of different markets, cultural contexts, and increasingly diverse workforces,” says Ms Devine.

But Ms Devine warns that foreign secondments have their pitfalls, namely that workers cannot necessarily expect to come back to the same career they left.

“Will they have a job to return to; will their new experience bring tangible benefits like a promotion or a pay rise? Quite often, the answer is no, because a lot of companies don’t have a good end-to-end process for handling a foreign assignment,” she says.

Visas also present an obstacle. Ms O’Flynn says the tail end of her initial 18-month allowance was a stressful time.
Only with the help of a company lawyer, and after a visit to the US embassy in Dublin, was it extended. 

“The uncertainty of it and not being able to plan ahead definitely wasn’t easy during that time,” Ms O’Flynn says.
While relocation programmes do remain popular, they are undeniably less widespread than they were in a pre-Covid world.

As Asma Bashir, of company expansion platform Centuro Global, says: “In recent times, the frequency of these secondments and transfers has somewhat decreased. This shift can be attributed to the increasing ease of hiring talent globally.

“Moreover, the prevailing trend is a surge in requests for remote work, posing challenges for companies to mandate and oversee.”

Nonetheless, with Covid travel restrictions now a distant memory, an international talent war will see countries resume “competing for human capital, for brains,” says Arman Arton, of global citizenship advisory firm Arton Capital.

“They will offer all kinds of incentives to have people choose their countries, from low taxation to easier relocation,” Mr Arton says. “Milan, for example, has seen a surge in people relocating from London, while France is trying to attract City bankers with low taxation – the game is on.”

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