The lack of a personal support network is one of the primary contributors to the unhappiness of global employees and their relocating spouses. This is one of the findings from the InterNations Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition, a report based on the 2018 Expat Insider survey with 18,135 respondents. The report focuses on foreign assignees, international hires, and relocating spouses, and delves into the various aspects impacting their happiness — and unhappiness — abroad.
While the majority of foreign assignees, international hires, and relocating spouses are happy with life abroad in general, a lack of socializing and personal support stood out as significant factors contributing to unhappiness during various phases of their time abroad.
Respondents who rated their happiness negatively were asked to identify the factors contributing to this unhappiness (unhappy partner and/or family; not enough socializing opportunities; dealing with culture shock; struggling with the language barrier; lack of a personal support network; and struggling with the practical aspects of living abroad).
While the lack of socializing options was the most commonly cited cause for unhappiness amongst foreign assignees and international hires (59% of both expat types reported this), the lack of a personal support network was the second most commonly stated contributor (45% of both expat types). Foreign assignees struggled most with the lack of a personal support network in the period of being abroad between 2 and 5 years, whereas international hires had the most difficulty in the period of 6 months to 2 years. A Turkish female international hire living in Germany, said: ‘’ I don’t like the lack of a social life. I also hardly have any kind of support network’’.
In comparison, the largest share (51%) of relocating spouses who are unhappy abroad said that not having a personal support network makes them unhappy, and this expat type struggled most with this in the period of 2 to 5 years. The lack of socializing opportunities was the second most commonly cited contributor to their unhappiness (47%).
These and other insights from the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition may suggest that there should be a greater emphasis on the more innovative aspects of relocation support for global employees and their spouses — such as empowering employees to establish a personal support network and to make friends outside of the workplace. Such friendships can provide valuable peer-to-peer support to facilitate successful social integration abroad, and ultimately result in happier and more productive global employees.
Read the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition: A Look at Global Talent Mobility Through Expat Eyes. 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 — of the respondents, 19% were international hires and 10% were foreign assignees).
Expat Insider 2018 | Business Edition
A Look At Global Talent Mobility Through Expat Eyes