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Gaps in Relocation Support for Global Employees in the UK and USA

Presently, the United Kingdom (UK) is probably best known for its decision to leave the European Union and the effects of Brexit. The UK is currently not a top choice for expats who consider moving for work, according to the Expat Insider survey. Furthermore, while the United States of America (USA) may be home to the “American Dream” and, therefore, an attractive expat destination, the country does not appear to be living up to this notion for its expats, according to the Expat Insider

How then do these countries compare in terms of employer support for global employees (foreign assignees and international hires)? The Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus zooms in on foreign assignees, international hires, and relocating spouses in these and seven other countries. The findings in the report is based on results from the Expat Insider, which is one of the world’s most comprehensive surveys on expat life.

The nine types of relocation support mentioned in the survey are: language classes, intercultural training, additional spouse support, access to local networking opportunities, access to local socializing opportunities, membership in an expat organization, information on local life, move organized by the employer or a service provide, and a lump-sum payment for expatriation-related expenses.

Zooming in on the UK

From the survey results, it appears that employers supporting foreign assignees and international hires in the UK are not doing the best job in supporting them. While foreign assignees receive some support with more practical aspects such as an organized move (77% received this), they are poorly supported with most other types of relocation support, such as intercultural training (13% received it), additional spouse support (18% received it), and access to local networking (4% received it) — compared to this expat type in the other countries featured in the report.

Relocation Support for Foreign Assignees in the UK

For international hires in the UK, the support received from employers is even worse. For all nine types of relocation support mentioned in the survey, the shares of international hires receiving it are lower than the global averages.

While the more practical types of relocation support, such as the organized move and lump-sum payment, are usually the two types of assistance that international hires receive more commonly (from the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition), for those in the UK the percentages of international hires having received these support types are much lower than the global averages. Of the international hires in the country, only 23% received the organized move (compared to the global average of 43%), and only 19% received the lump-sum payment (compared to the global average of 36%). For the latter type of support, international hires in the UK are least-supported, compared to the other featured countries. In terms of moving assistance, only international hires in Hong Kong (15%) are less supported than those in the UK.

Membership in an expat organization stands out as the type of relocation support that the largest share of international hires would have liked (66%) — taking into consideration that only 3% received it. This is followed by access to local networking opportunities (65% would have liked it), access to local socializing opportunities and the lump-sum payment (62% would have liked both types), and information on local life (53% would have liked it).

The survey results indicate that employers need to consider improving overall support for these expats in the UK — both practically and personally.

The USA Compared

In comparison, employers sending foreign assignees to the USA support them well with practical assistance, such as organizing their move and offering a lump-sum payment. The shares of foreign assignees that received these are above the global averages — 77% of foreign assignees had their move arranged, which is two percentage points higher than the global average, and 71% received the lump-sum payment, which is six percentage points higher than the global average.

Employers don’t seem to put much effort into providing more personal and social types of relocation support. Of the foreign assignees in the USA, 11% received access to local networking opportunities (73% would have liked it), 11% received access to local socializing opportunities (66% would have liked it), and 5% received membership in an expat organization (71% would have liked it). While these support types are not yet as commonly offered globally, the shares of foreign assignees in the USA receiving them are lower than the global averages, which could be a further indication of what employers should focus on when supporting these expats.

Relocation Support for Foreign Assignees in the USA

Compared to foreign assignees in the USA and international hires in other countries, international hires in the USA are not well-supported by their employers. 

For eight of the nine types of relocation support mentioned in the survey, the shares of international hires that received them are lower than the global averages. These support types are: language classes (7% received it), intercultural training (9% received it), additional spouse support (14% received it), access to local networking (14% received it), membership in an expat organization (5% received it), information on local life (32% received it), organized move (37% received it), and the lump-sum payment (26% received it).

Employers are seemingly doing a better job supporting international hires in the USA in terms of providing access to local socializing opportunities — 20% received this, which is equal to the global average. Compared to the other featured countries, only international hires in China (33%) and the Netherlands (32%) have a larger share that received it, making those in the USA third-most likely to get socializing assistance (along with international hires in the UAE, also at 20%).

Furthermore, compared to foreign assignees in the USA — who are more supported overall — the percentage of international hires that received access to socializing is nine percentage points higher. This is a further indication that employers do see the need to help international hires more with their social integration, even though it is still only a small share.

In terms of overall employer support, the survey results show that in both the UK and the USA there needs to be a stronger balance in terms of practical and personal support for global employees.


Find out more in the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus: The report zooms in on Foreign Assignees, International Hires, and Relocating Spouses in nine featured countries. Mini reports for each country provide insights into issues relating to these expats and their employers on topics such as relocation support, settling in, and happiness. 

Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus

Expat Insider 2018 | Business Edition Country Focus

A Snapshot of 9 Featured Countries

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