For both companies and their relocating employees, choosing the right location and cultural fit is critical to the success of an international assignment or a new overseas operation.
Best assignment destinations
So where is the best place for an expat assignment? A wide range of surveys is published each year, and the answers can differ greatly, mainly as a result of criteria used to compile the lists.One of the most comprehensive surveys is conducted annually by Mercer, one of the world’s largest human resources consulting firms. It is aimed at enabling multinational companies and other organisations to have an accurate guide to compensating employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.The firm’s latest Quality of Living survey, published in March, provides hardship premium recommendations for 231 cities. This year, for the first time, it includes separate city infrastructure rankings, because this “plays an important role when multinationals decide where to establish locations abroad and send expatriate workers”.“The success of foreign assignments is influenced by issues such as ease of travel and communication, sanitation standards, personal safety, and access to public services,” says Slagin Parakatil, principal at Mercer responsible for its quality-of-living research. “Multinational companies need accurate and timely information to help calculate fair and consistent expatriate compensation – a real challenge in locations with a compromised quality of living.”In the Mercer rankings, Vienna occupies first place for overall quality of living for the eighth year running, with the rest of the top ten list mostly filled by European cities: Zurich in second place, followed by Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen and newcomer Basel.The only non-European cities in the top ten are Auckland, in third place, and Vancouver, in fifth. The highest-ranking cities in Asia and Latin America are Singapore (25) and Montevideo (79).