Are short-term gigs better than permanent moves?

Costs, business needs, employee preferences and career growth drive a move toward more short-term assignments, but family and return-on-investments questions need more study
By Stephen Cryne
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/06/2004

From tea traders in India to fur traders in North America, increased commercial opportunities have driven workforce mobility and relocation for centuries. Back then terms like explorers and pioneers best described them, today we use “expats and assignees” to identify these global nomads. Global experience is becoming more and more important to a company’s competitive advantage in today’s globalized marketplace.

Short-term assignments have been around since the 1970s, when the oil and gas industry relied on mobility of engineers to build refineries and wellheads. These are generally single unaccompanied assignments of between three and 12 months. Extensions beyond those times are not uncommon, but much beyond and the move becomes permanent. So what are the trends today and what’s behind some of the changes?

A marked trend