The Rise of ‘Cross-Border Careers’: Employees Prioritize Life-Changing International Work Experiences | EY

  • The EY 2023 Mobility Reimagined Survey shows that 93% of employees say working internationally would be “life-changing”.
  • 88% of employers believe that mobility can help address the global talent shortage
  • Only 47% of companies have a consistent mobility policy that addresses the growing demands of flexible and agile working

Workers are embracing “cross-border careers”, with 93% saying working internationally would be “life-changing”, according to the EY 2023 Mobility Reimagined Survey. This life-changing experience is seen as the main benefit of an international assignment, followed by career development and gaining a global mindset.

The survey gathered the views of more than 1,000 human resources (HR) and mobility professionals and mobile workers in 16 countries and six major sectors, who face different types of cross-border mobility assignments, including workers for work, business travel, commuting and for hybrids /remote work

90% of workers surveyed would accept a short-term assignment to meet a business need without relocating family, while 88% are open to longer-term cross-border opportunities under the right circumstances.

Meanwhile, 88% of HR professionals say employers are embracing mobility as an approach to addressing the global talent shortage, and 90% plan to maintain or increase their organization’s mobility footprint over the next three years. Organizations are also seeing the value of workplace flexibility and mobility in driving their diversity, equality and inclusion (D&I) goals, with six in ten (61%) saying it provides development and succession opportunities for underrepresented groups. While 3 in four employers (74%) view mobility as critical to business continuity, less than half (47%) say they have a globally consistent mobility policy that addresses options such as hybrid mobility, relocation or temporary projects.

Joost Smits, EY Global Mobility Leader, says:

“Mobility is an increasingly strategic focus for modern organizations. This research shows that a cross-border move can be life-changing for workers and their families, building skills and connections that are both personally and professionally valuable. Organizations are also seeing the transformative impact of providing global exploratory opportunities to build individual skills and capabilities. A well-implemented, purpose-driven mobility policy can be a game-changer in a business’s talent strategy, supporting retention, promoting inclusivity, while addressing skills gaps by offering employees the opportunity to move within. As the demand for flexible and hybrid work practices continues to rise, employers with mobility strategies that can adapt to different needs will be best positioned to compete for talent.’

Organizations face new sets of risks with international locations

Employers face several risks when activating their cross-border mobility programs that are less visible to employees. Top on HR teams’ radar is cyber risk, cited by 83%, followed by loss of management oversight (79%) and data privacy (78%), as well as the ability to redeploy employees upon return. (78%) – a concern that employees want to address before making the move. However, there is a lack of preparation to deal with the resulting risks, and only 29% strongly agree that they can deal with geopolitical risks.

In addition, many workers are not aware of the risks of cross-border movement. Compared to employers, 18% fewer employees, on average, will be aware of the medium to significant level of risk associated with international experiences.

Rachel D’Argenio, EY Global Mobility Market Leader, says:

“Knowing and managing the inherent complexities and risks of cross-border movement is key to any organization’s mobility strategy. Otherwise, good international job offers can negatively impact the employee experience, set back retention and trigger tax, legal and compliance issues. While authorities around the world have seen increased adoption of technology to identify cross-border activity, we see many organizations struggling to achieve cross-alignment in risk management in the face of new ways of working and increased pressure. both from the company and the talent pool. As a result, companies are exposed.”

Mobility functions are undergoing digital transformation to meet increasing demand

Organizations plan to invest in digitizing their mobility processes as international labor demands increase. 67 percent expect to increase investment in mobility technology and digitization over the next five years. 92%, meanwhile, agree that digitizing the mobility function is beneficial for multiple tasks and workflows. On average, 35% of respondents say their organization has digitized key processes.

D’Argenio says: “With both employers and employees aligned with the benefits of cross-border mobility, organizations need innovative solutions to manage the complexities of moving people and work streams across borders. Leaders must embrace the digitization of key mobility processes to improve the employee experience throughout the employee journey and unlock the potential of a truly agile workforce.”

To read the full survey:


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About the survey

The inaugural EY 2023 Mobility Reimagined Survey shows that cross-border assignments are life-changing for employees and value creators for organizations. The survey was conducted in December and received responses from 1,026 employees and employers in 16 countries across six sectors. The survey was conducted using a third-party panel and targeted employers with between 500 and 15,000 employees.

To dive deeper into the survey results, CPE accredited, visit and register here: Welcome – EY 2023 Mobility Reimagined Conference (

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