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Spousal Assistance

For the third straight year, the seismic shift in spouse/partner employment is affecting employee relocations “almost always” or “frequently.” Nearly two-thirds of firms continue to report this issue, far more than at any time over the previous 12 years (62% & 63% vs. roughly half or less). While small firms have seen this historically around half the time, it has jumped to 64%, markedly higher than historical averages and above the past two years’ elevated percentages (60% & 58%). An increase of more than 20 percentage points since 2013 remains in effect for mid-size firms (65% vs. 43%) after hitting 54% in 2014, 65% in 2015, and 68% in 2016. However, large firms, while still heavily affected, are less so compared to smaller firms (54% vs. 64%+); its impact remains far higher than 2014 (32%), although it rose a bit more in 2015-2016 (61%+).

With the importance of spouse/partner employment eclipsing historical averages over the past three years, we see a rise in spouse/partner employment assistance. Firms of all sizes have offered such assistance far more often over the past three years compared to previous levels. For the second year in a row it is being offered at similar levels across company size, not as something more often 
seen at mid-size and large firms.

  • The most popular form of employment assistance at small and mid-size firms is networking assistance; for large firms it is outplacement/career services from an outside firm. Compared to last year, there is a marked upswing among companies of all sizes in paying for services from an outside firm (27% vs. 16% small, 37% vs. 27% mid-size, and 45% vs. 32% large). Around a third of firms across size offer assistance with resume preparation and around a fourth reimburse for expenses related to career transition.
  • Large firms indicate that 26% of employees relocating with a spouse/partner used this type of assistance, while usage rates trend around a third for small and mid-size firms.
Question 38
Frequency of employee's relocation being affected by employment status of spouse/partner
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Question 39
Companies that allow the hiring of spouses of employees
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Question 39a
Companies that assist an employee's spouse or partner in finding employment in the new location
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Question 39b-1
Methods of spousal/partner employment assistance
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Question 39b-2
Methods of spousal/partner employment assistance
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Question 39c
Approximate percentage of relocated employees with a spouse/partner who used employment assistancee
Chart Q39c
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Nearly three-fourths of companies offer to help find jobs for spouses or partners relocating internationally, the second-highest level historically. For the third straight year, such assistance is more often available with international than with domestic relocations (72% vs. 62%); from 2008-2014, these levels were nearly identical. Also, for the third year in a row, the popularity of this assistance is similar across company size; historically, it has been offered at mid-size and large firms more frequently than at small firms.

  • Similar to the domestic trend, more firms are offering to pay for outplacement/career services from an outside firm (29% vs. 17% last year), with increases across company size. Also worth noting: an overall uptick in firms offering to pay for work visas (26% vs. 21% in 2016) — driven largely by small firms (33% vs. 15% last year).
  • For-profit service firms are far more likely than manufacturing/processing or wholesale/retail firms to pay for spouse/partner work visas (34% vs. 22% & 14%).
Question 44k-1
Method of employment assistance for internationally relocated employee's spouse or partner
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Question 44k-2
Method of employment assistance for internationally relocated employee's spouse or partner
Chart Q44k-2
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Family Assistance

For the third year in a row, firms are making far greater accommodations overall for childcare (65% vs. 31%-43% historically) and for elder care (51% vs. 16%-26% historically), even if merely providing lists of resources for support. However, since this shift occurred in 2015 and has remained stable overall, some trends by company size emerge. The percentages of small firms offering these types of support have increased in each of the last three years to historical highs. For mid-size firms, the levels jumped in 2015 and then stabilized at roughly those highs over the past two years. Among large firms, the offerings jumped to historical highs in 2015 and have trended downward since but remain similar to 2015 levels comparatively. In general, regardless of size, around two-thirds of firms offer accommodations for childcare. However, while more than half of small and mid-size firms offer elder care, just 43% of large firms do. The impact of family issues/ties remains a main factor in declined relocations and many employees are finding themselves caring for both older family members and children at the same time. Having children is often delayed in more affluent, high-earning households, typically part of the highly educated pool employers tap for relocation. However, large firms reported increased reluctance levels last year at nearly half that of mid-size and small firms (12% vs. 21% and 25%). While the need to accommodate childcare likely remains pressing, these firms may be experiencing less pressure to offer elder-care assistance.

Question 36-1
Companies offering elder care assistance
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Question 36-2
Elder care assistance offered
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Question 37-1
Companies offering childcare assistance
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Question 37-2
Childcare assistance offered
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