Relocating spouses are generally under supported by employers, with this expat type in the United Kingdom (UK), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Hong Kong receiving particularly poor relocation support.
These are some of the findings from the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus, a report that zooms in on relocating spouses, foreign assignees, and international hires in nine countries — China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK, and the USA. The report looks at nine types of relocation support that these expat types receive from companies (language classes, intercultural training, additional spouse support, access to networking, access to socializing opportunities, membership in an expat organization, information on local life, move organized by employer or service provider, and lump-sum payment for expatriation-related expenses).
The report is based on findings from the Expat Insider — one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on expat life.
Spouses in the UK are Under Supported and Unhappiest
For all nine types of relocation support mentioned in the survey, the shares of relocating spouses in the UK that received it are lower than the global averages. For example, only 4% of spouses in the country received intercultural training (compared to 15% globally) and only 13% received additional spouse support (compared to 26% globally).
Considering these findings, it might come as no surprise that, of those in the nine featured countries, relocating spouses in the UK are unhappiest overall — only 61% indicate they are happy with life in general (compared to 72% globally), while 21% state unhappiness (compared to 13% globally).
A Similar Story for Spouses in the UAE
Spouses in the UAE are equally under supported — of this expat type in the nine featured countries, those in the UAE either have the lowest shares that received support or are in the bottom four. The only support type mentioned in the survey where the share of relocating spouses in the UAE that received it is slightly above the global average is that of membership in an expat organization — 9% received it (compared to 8% globally).
Similar to relocating spouses in the UK, those in the UAE are not so happy — only 69% indicate happiness, while 13% indicate unhappiness.
Gaps in Relocation Support for Spouses in Hong Kong
Relocating spouses in Hong Kong, on the other hand, are some of the best-supported partners in terms of practical relocation assistance, but some of the worst supported with personal assistance. Of the spouses in the nine featured countries, Hong Kong has the largest share that had their move organized (74% compared to 54% globally). Conversely, the percentages for support with social integration are strikingly low — only 6% received intercultural training (compared to 15% globally), 3% received access to local networking (compared to 12% globally), 0% received access to local socializing (compared to 15% globally), and 0% received membership in an expat organization (compared to 8% globally).
Despite these gaps in employer support, relocating spouses in Hong Kong are happiest overall — 81% indicate that they are happy with life in general and only 9% indicate unhappiness.
Relocating Spouses Need More Well-Rounded Support
These findings paint a clear picture that employers need to improve their overall support for relocating spouses, and include both practical and personal aspects of assistance in their relocation packages. Doing so will support the entire expat family to settle down and find happiness abroad.
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