The trap of overpaying ‘elite’ workers

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It may be a question of “How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?” But one developed country is now grappling with the challenge of repatriating workers “spoiled” by higher wages abroad.
Not unlike Canada, New Zealand has a significant number of skilled workers based overseas, and a new survey suggests as many as 10% of them say they’d be uncomfortable raising a family back home on local wages.
With more and more companies sending “elite” employees to overseas postings, PwC has issued a report suggesting there may be a big downside if organizations put too much sugar in what are already considered plum assignments abroad.
According to 2013 survey Every Kiwi Counts, conducted by Kea, more than half of Kiwi expats are earning in excess of $100,000 per year overseas.
“Many employers risk wasting considerable money sending the wrong people to the wrong places, overpaying for expats when local talent is available in-country or offering large financial packages when people are more motivated by the development opportunity,” Claire Hughes, director of PwC’s global mobility team, said.
“Many businesses are also losing valuable talent at the end of their assignment, as they have no plan for their returning role.”
Richard Westney, an Kiwi HR director at FNZ, agrees with PwC’s suggestions that companies are potentially wasting huge sums of money on remuneration packages.
“I think it’s accurate that many employees would be equally grateful for the development opportunity and the monetary value of working overseas,” Westney said.
“People used to move overseas on huge packages and when they returned their employers couldn’t get them off them. Now, people initially just expect to have their basic expenses covered and a salary that is consistent with the local market. Overseas opportunities are no longer only open to the elite.”

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