Swiss companies spending millions on employing expat managers

Swiss companies spending millions on employing expat managers

With the number of vacancies in Switzerland remaining near a record high, a new report from Blick has found that many businesses are going (and spending) above and beyond on filling certain jobs. They found that from pharmaceuticals to banking, Swiss companies are pulling out all the stops to fill their top positions with expats, with American citizens seen as particularly valuable.

Swiss pharmaceutical companies spend millions on relocation packages

In the report, pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis were found to offer extremely lucrative support and relocation packages to expats and internationals who fill their management roles. Benefits include covering the cost of renting a house or apartment, paying for their children to attend an international school, covering the cost of health insurance and even helping to file and pay taxes.

The newspaper noted the case of Cristina Wilbur, a member of management at Roche. They claimed that she had the company pay half a million francs in American and Swiss taxes, alongside a salary of 3,44 million francs a year. For three other expat members of management, the company spent 72.000 francs on tax advisors alone.

Staff shortages in Switzerland making expat workers more sought-after

“Depending on the size of the company, the number of [locally-based] candidates is very limited for certain positions. Hiring foreign executives is therefore inevitable," noted recruitment expert Erik Wirz. Speaking to Blick, he added that to coax people to move to Switzerland, most companies now offer extremely lucrative relocation packages, sometimes worth five to six figures, to specialists and those coming to Switzerland to fill the country’s most in-demand jobs

He went on to note that American managers are particularly sought after, especially “in the pharmaceutical or technological fields.” Despite the fact that US citizens are subject to stricter rules when applying for Swiss residence permits, and face the prospect of double taxation, they are highly valued by international companies in Switzerland as they provide “specialised knowledge” when it comes to the American market.

Other Swiss industries also offer lucrative packages to expats

The phenomenon isn’t restricted to pharmaceutical companies either, with Blick noting that Swiss banks are also known for offering lucrative packages to expats that cover the cost of relocation agents. However, they found that tax and school benefits are less common in the industry, as most employers simply focus on offering better base salaries.

In responding to the report, Roche noted that “what matters to us is the aptitude and performance of our employees. We want to attract the best talent, regardless of their origin.”

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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