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A Lack of Socializing Makes Global Employees Unhappy

Whether they are foreign assignees or international hires, global employees have at least one other thing, apart from working abroad, in common: they have the same reason for being unhappy abroad.

A lack of socializing opportunities largely contributes to the unhappiness of foreign assignees and international hires. This is one of the findings from the InterNations Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition. The report looks at global talent mobility through expat eyes.

Of the foreign assignees and international hires that indicated unhappiness in the survey, 59% of both expat types stated that not having enough socializing opportunities makes them unhappy.

What do socializing opportunities entail, exactly? In the expat context this could include making friends, participating in various events and activities outside of work, and sharing hobbies with people that have similar interests.

A contributing reason for this lack of socializing could also be the fact that expats struggle to make local friends. Only 40% of foreign assignees and 36% of international hires participating in the survey agreed that it was easy for them to make local friends.

One of the survey respondents, an American male international hire living in Denmark, said: “I normally make friends easily and while I have made many international acquaintances, there is not a single local person that I can call a friend despite being here for over 14 months”. Another expat, a Canadian female foreign assignee living in Tunisia, stated: “There is a lack of social groups that provide diversified activities and include a mix of locals and expats”.

While other aspects — such as not having a personal support network, experiencing culture shock, and struggling with the language barrier — also contribute to the unhappiness of working expats, the lack of socializing remained the one prominent constant across both expat types and for all phases of the expat lifecycle.

These findings from the report raise some important questions for employers of foreign assignees and international hires: Does a lack of socializing make your employees unhappy? How does this unhappiness affect their work? What can you, as an employer, do about this?


Read the Expat Insider 2018 Business EditionExpat Insider is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on life abroad (18,135 expats from across the globe took part in the 2018 survey — 10% of respondents were foreign assignees, and 19% were international hires). 

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Expat Insider 2018 | Business Edition

A Look At Global Talent Mobility Through Expat Eyes

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