International assignments traditionally have been reserved for more senior employees who had the necessary expertise, and to some degree, had earned the opportunity after years of service. All of this makes sense, especially given how much of an investment an international assignment is – on average, $76,000.

But more and more, millennial employees are raising their hand for these opportunities. While it might be easy to quickly dismiss their requests for the aforementioned reasons, it’s important for HR managers to consider the reasons behind this trend and why it’s one they should work with – instead of against.

More than a job

One of the biggest differences between millennials and their older colleagues is how they view their job as more than a means to make a living. They want to be able to find meaning and purpose in their work. Not to say that they are somehow more noble and less greedy than previous generations, they simply get restless in homogeneous work environments and want opportunities that fulfill both personal and professional aspirations.

Improved retention

Another trend among millennials is their tendency to switch jobs more frequently. According to a LinkedIn survey, millennials “job hop” more than baby boomers and Gen Xers, and have changed jobs an average of four times by the age of 32. A Gallup article labeled millennials the “job hopping generation.”

This may seem like all the more reason why you shouldn’t consider millennials for international assignments, again given how much an investment they are. But there are ways to curb millennials’ wandering eyes, so to speak.

The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey points to neglect and lack of career development as millennials’ reasons for leaving a job. Conversely, those that feel support and encouragement for taking on leadership roles are more likely to stay with a company for more than five years. Not just acquiescing to their demands, but building a global mobility program that encourages millennial participation could have a positive impact on your retention rates – and ultimately your bottom line.

Better leaders

But a successful global mobility program should have higher aspirations than simply curbing employee turnover. It should be a career development tool that shapes your organization’s future leaders. Fortunately, according to the Brookfield 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey, the biggest impact that international assignments have on employees’ careers is that they make them better leaders. Obviously, it’s critical that you have a clear plan in place for them upon returning so they aren’t left wondering what’s next for them with your company.

Who you select for international assignments still requires considerable thought and attention to help ensure success, but excluding younger employees simply because of their age or lack of seniority could be hurting your company in the long term, especially with millennials making up more and more of the job market.

Curious about other HR and relocation trends affecting your business? Download our Talent Management Trends Review, which combines all of the top data from leading studies and white papers into one easy-to-read and comprehensive report. You can download the report below.

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