Happiness in the Workplace Starts in the Expat Home

While relocating spouses receive less relocation support than foreign assignees and international hires, they are also the expat type that has the greatest need for support. This is one of the findings from the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition, a report based on the InterNations Expat Insider survey of 18,135 respondents.

The largest share (86%) of relocating spouses is female, and the survey indicates that this expat type is generally at home — 27% of relocating spouses are taking care of their households or children, and 17% are looking for work. Furthermore, of the relocating spouses who are employed, 41% work part-time and 59% work full-time. These numbers differ significantly to foreign assignees (96% work full-time) and international hires (95% work full-time).

While global employees benefit from networking and socializing opportunities within the workplace, relocating spouses who spend more time at home may miss out on these valuable aspects of support. This might mean that their social integration can take longer, if it happens at all, and lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

One survey respondent, an American female relocating spouse living in Germany, said: “I wish there was more help for professional relocating spouses with the integration”. Another relocating spouse, a Canadian female living in Kazakhstan, said: ''My husband's contract isn't very family-friendly. There is very little support for the spouse and dependents''.

The survey indicates that the lack of a personal support network is the biggest cause of unhappiness for relocating spouses, while the happiness of their partner and/or family is the top factor influencing the happiness of both foreign assignees and international hires. Such findings suggest that relocating spouses are an integral part of the expat family structure, and employers should strongly consider their needs when offering relocation support. Doing so will not only result in better integrated expat families, but happier and more productive global employees within the workplace as well. 

Read the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition: Expat 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, 19% were international hires, and 8% were relocating spouses).

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