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These days few workers feel confident enough to make demands of their employers. With the global economy enduring the worst downturn in decades, lots of workers in the U.S. and other countries are happy to have a job, any job. There are places, though, where it's so tough to live that employees can still get companies to pay them extra just for agreeing to work there. For decades, multinationals looking to expand into inhospitable places in the developing world have offered managers bonuses for accepting "hardship posts." While some companies are trying to cut costs by hiring managers locally instead of sending expatriates, many multinationals continue to pay top workers extra for agreeing to work in difficult locations.
When trying to figure out how much hardship pay they need to offer, companies turn to consultants like New York-based human resources company ORC Worldwide. The firm recently compiled for BusinessWeek a ranking of 55 cities (the top 20 of which make up this slide show) outside the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe that might qualify as hardship posts based on a set of criteria that includes levels of pollution, disease, political violence, and availability of goods and services. The list doesn't include some cities that are so obviously challenging—because of war or international isolation—that they're in another league when it comes to hardship posts. For that reason, you won't find Baghdad or Harare or Pyongyang on ORC's list. You will find, though, cities in Africa, Southeast Asia, India, China, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The worst of the lot? Lagos, Nigeria.
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