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Are your assignees engaged or just satisfied?

With the war for talent and return on investment being two of the biggest issues facing employers today, it is easy to recognize the importance of satisfaction surveys.

While there is no doubt that organizations can benefit from this feedback, how the data is interpreted determines its value, as discussed in our previous article “Is your data Fake News?

How engaging is your global mobility program? Looking at your program holistically and asking if you are getting the best out of your Suppliers, HR Business Partners and Account Managers could result in a more successful program for you and your assignees.

Satisfaction versus engagement

Research by The Society for Human Resource Management in 2016 quotes respectful treatment, compensation, benefits, job security and trust as the top five contributors to employee satisfaction.

Having these fundamental, somewhat basic, elements in place will present satisfied employees. A satisfied employee has a transactional relationship with their employer; they are content with completing the required level of work to the required standards but only give what is expected.

These essential foundations do not guarantee tenure or productivity. An employee’s commitment to their work and connection to their organization, therefore engagement, is critical for overall business performance.

Winning the hearts and minds of your employees with an entrepreneurial culture, development opportunities and meaningful tasks should be considered as a valuable investment.

Satisfaction scores can be misleading

Survey feedback presenting a satisfied workforce may not necessarily mean you have the engaged workforce your business requires.

Consider this scenario. An annual employee survey states that 97.9% of employees are satisfied; they are happy with their pay, benefits and working hours. However, if the survey asked “Do you look forward to coming to work every morning?” the results may have been less positive. Your employees may not understand the business strategy and how it applies to them, and they could want more training and responsibility.

If they are feeling this way there is very little motivating them to perform at their best or even remain with the organization.

Satisfied relocation experience versus fully engaged assignee

The same can be said of mobility programs.

Before and during the first weeks of assignment, career enhancement, gaining international experience and working with people of different cultures means levels of optimism and enthusiasm from the assignee are at their peak. This is the time that the assignee is most likely to receive their feedback survey, therefore a positive satisfied result is to be expected.
However, this may change through the assignment lifecycle. If ongoing support and guidance is not provided, engagement could decline leading to reduced return on investment and greater risk of assignment failure.

Pre-assignment consultations with the whole family, ongoing communication and clear goal setting would provide qualitative information that could be used to ensure assignees are getting the most out of their experience and delivering return on investment.


Whilst satisfaction is of course important, engagement is the factor that drives employees to commit to their organization and invest care, time and effort into their work.

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