Although the services benefit relocating partners, none of the above assistance is really considered as primary “partner support.” This is because they do not directly answer the biggest expectations of partners. Partners expect to be supported to integrate in the host location and to rebuild their network. And they want to be helped to work or study while abroad or to contribute to a voluntary organization.
Over the last 25 years, service providers have emerged to fulfill these specific needs of the partners: they use coaching support, offered over the phone or face to face, to inform and guide partners. In these instances, targeted business-specific intercultural training and use of local language is important.
The future of partner support
Twenty-eight percent of employers plan to increase their current relocating partner benefits, and no employer surveyed plans to decrease the benefit, which is encouraging given ever-present cost-containment mandates.
The top two changes planned by employers regarding partner support will be to improve communication with partners and to increase the visibility of partner-support programs among their mobile workforce.
Communication is indeed the main issue for a majority of employers, as highlighted by the low utilization rates for the partner support offered by employers. The survey found that only 31% of employers reported a utilization rate above 50%, compared with 34% who reported a utilization rate below 50% (35% did not measure utilization).
Employers whose utilization rate was under 50% mention, as reasons for the low rate, first the lack of awareness among the partners, followed by the lack of awareness among their employees.