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2019 global mobility equity survey

Understanding equity-based compensation

Our inaugural survey explores the equity-based compensation companies offer mobile employees and how they track participants, manage tax withholding, and communicate the cross-border tax implications to assist their employees. The answers revealed a range of approaches and a few considerations for process improvement and increased employee satisfaction.

2019 global mobility equity survey

As employee global mobility increases to meet expanding business needs, the taxes on equity compensation become more complex. Is your organization tracking mobile employees for equity administrative purposes manually, or with an HR management system? Who is managing tax withholding? Do mobile employees have access to detailed income and tax statements? Our inaugural global mobile equity survey can help you benchmark your current approaches and help identify areas for potential process improvements and considerations for increased employee satisfaction.

2019 global mobility equity survey

Exploring the year-one survey numbers: General trends in global mobile equity

Offering of equity-based awards is the norm
More than four out of five respondents to our global mobility survey said their company offers equity-based compensation to its employees. Respondents reported a range of equity award vehicles offered to employees, with restricted stock units (RSUs) being favored by a majority.

RSU income is also the most widely sourced between tax jurisdictions. Employee stock purchase plans and cash bonuses earned over multiple years are less frequently sourced across borders. 

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Tracking global employees

A potential gap
A majority of respondents to our global mobility survey said their company is focused on tracking long-term assignees and permanent transfers. But companies remain much less focused on tracking their business traveler and commuter populations, revealing a potential gap in the management of many employee mobile programs.

Still using spreadsheets
And though more robust HR management systems are the most common global mobility tracking method, 42 percent of respondents still rely on spreadsheets or other manual approaches to manage this complex and significant task.

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Withholding patterns

Where tax withholding happens
More than two-thirds of respondents report that managing tax withholding rates for cross-border equity compensation is, predictably, the job of the payroll team (27 percent), stock team (25 percent), or an external third-party system or vendor (16 percent). Interestingly 20 percent say someone other than these expected teams is responsible.

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Educating mobile employees

Are employees in the know?
While 24 percent of respondents say mobile employees at their company receive detailed and comprehensive income and tax statements for all equity award transactions—a practice that may increase transparency and employee satisfaction—a nearly identical 23 percent say their company gives no statements or similar communication to assist and inform their mobile employees.

There are variances between those all-or-nothing options: 17 percent provide annual income and tax statements for mobile transactions at year-end, 14 percent provide statements upon request, and 10 percent provide mobility allocation figures before the transaction occurs for mobile employees.

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Making mobile more manageable

With workforces becoming increasingly mobile, tax departments need to have the knowledge and resources to comprehensively track, adequately tax withholding, and effectively inform their employees no matter where they are working or for how long. Potentially seen by many in the past as an effort that may not outweigh its administrative cost, it’s time for companies to reassess the impact posed by the varied issues surrounding global mobility and start addressing the gaps in their approaches. While many companies are already using third-party vendors for tracking and managing some components of mobile equity, they may want to explore the potential benefits of increased collaboration in areas such as compliance, reporting, and employee communication and education.

To learn more about this global mobility survey’s findings and the issues it addresses, please contact your Deloitte engagement team or email our Global Rewards team at

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About the survey

• Conducted during August and September 2019
• 241 respondents employed by companies globally across various industries
• Company size of respondents ranges from fewer than 1,000 to more than 50,000 in employee head count worldwide
• A plurality of respondents work at companies with international mobile employees numbering more than 1,000

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Explore our related global employer services surveys

Global employee stock purchase plan trends survey

Business traveler compliance: Identifying potential challenges

2018 global equity tax equalization survey

Insights on the structure and management of stock purchase plans


2018 global business traveler compliance trends survey results


Managing the tax costs of equity awards and stock-based compensation

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