"Have job, but will relocate" appears to be the mantra for the current crop of business leaders, whose eyes are trained on long-term success. Eighty-two percent of senior leaders around the world are willing to move to a different region, state, or country for their next work opportunity, according to the results of the latest Korn/ Ferry Institute Executive Quiz. Eighty-one percent of leaders reported they had relocated for a previous job.
"Anybody who is following what is going on in the world right now is seeing a tremendous move toward globalization," says Ana Dutra, CEO of Korn/Ferry's leadership and talent consulting division. "Executives who have international experience and understand different cultures are going to be in higher demand."
She also notes that the recession has caused the market to tighten, which forces people to become more flexible in the options they consider. Though each factor is on a different scale - globalization is more long-term and strategic, and the recession is more short-term and circumstantial - their combination is a good explanation for the survey results.
In fact, 78 percent of respondents believe that moving to a new location might accelerate their careers. Furthermore, 51 percent of executives reported they had been asked to take an international work assignment in the past and had taken it, while 8 percent said they had been asked but had turned it down, and 41 percent reported they had never been asked.
"Some executives make a career out of moving; those are the people who like to open new businesses," says Dutra. "They are essentially entrepreneurs within the corporate environment. There are other people who will do it because they feel it is a prerequisite for growth and career development."
The implications of this survey are twofold, according to Dutra. From an individual perspective, executives will notice the willingness of their peers to move, and it could prompt a shift in their own attitude. And from a company perspective, "if it's a company that doesn't provide mobility or relocation opportunities to its employees, they could look at these findings and think about additional ways to develop people, as well as reward and prepare their best executives for higher positions," she says.
Interestingly, executives noted that their top reason to relocate for a job, at 42 percent, would be quality of life in a new location. This reason easily outranked salary (20 percent), job title or promotion (20 percent), and reputation of the company (18 percent).
"I think that, in general, people want to have experiences where the quality of life is superior as compared to the country they're already living in," says Dutra. She also notes that expatriate packages tend to be generous, and people might go abroad to save money, which she considers a part of quality of life.
In fact, the highest ranked countries or regions for preferred relocation are the United States (45 percent), Europe (20 percent), and the rapidly industrialized Asia-Pacific (16 percent) - all regions with a relatively high quality of life, at least within the urban centers.
Another interesting aspect that Dutra noted is that executives are willing to move because they want to give their children exposure to other cultures as well as international experiences, which is another facet of globalization and the increasing interconnectedness of the world.
Respondents included 900 to 1,200 global executives from 65 different countries and from a variety of industries and functional areas.