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The Relocation Support Needs of International Hires — Practical and Personal

Employers that recruit international talent (and want to retain them) seem to underestimate the negative impact that not receiving sufficient support has on their international hires. In some instances, there may be some cash allowance or help with their visa, but usually not much more.

This notion is confirmed in the recently released Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus, a country-specific report based on the Expat Insider survey of 18,135 expats. The report identifies big needs from international hires for both practical and personal support. Furthermore, the survey results indicate significant differences when comparing relocation support offered to international hires with that of foreign assignees — specifically in terms of the more commonly offered types of practical support.

The report zooms in on expats who moved abroad for work and live in China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA).

The Comparison: International Hires versus Foreign Assignees

When it comes to benefits for international hires, international recruiting can certainly learn from global mobility management.

Of the nine types of relocation support mentioned in the survey, the practical support types, such as the organized move and lump-sum payment were found to be most commonly offered to international hires. For example, when looking at the global level, these two support types saw the largest shares of international hires receiving them — 43% received the organized move and 36% received the lump-sum payment.

Yet, when compared to foreign assignees globally, the difference in employer support is crystal clear as 75% of foreign assignees received the organized move and 65% received the lump-sum payment. That’s a major difference of 32 percentage points for moving assistance and 29 percentage points for financial support.

When looking more closely at the featured countries, employers in the UAE provided the best moving assistance to international hires, compared to those in the other featured countries — 52% received it (nine percentage points above the global average for international hires). Yet, 86% of foreign assignees in the UAE received similar support, indicating the extent to which foreign assignees received more support than international hires.

Employers in the Netherlands supported international hires best with the lump-sum payment with 49% indicating they received this support (13 percentage points above the global average for international hires). However, when looking at the support offered to foreign assignees in the Netherlands, the disconnect is further highlighted as 76% of assignees received it — a significantly larger share.

While these practical support types are generally more commonly offered to both expat types, there is a clear divide between what’s offered by international recruiting and what’s offered by global mobility.

The Need: Practical and Personal Support

Even though the practical support types are more commonly offered to international hires than the other types of assistance, the shares receiving them on a global level are still below the 50%-mark. 

Support with aspects relating to social integration, such as access to local networking and socializing opportunities, have even lower ratings. While only 14% of international hires globally received intercultural training, 52% indicated that they did not although they would have liked to. Furthermore, only 17% received access to local networking opportunities (62% would have liked it), 20% received access to socializing would have liked it). 

Employers in China and the Netherlands stood out most positively, of the featured countries, in terms of offering their international hires these more personal relocation support types. In China, 24% of international hires received intercultural training, and 33% received access to local socializing opportunities. In the Netherlands, 22% of international hires received access to local networking opportunities, and 12% received membership in an expat organization. 

Even so, the shares of international hires receiving these personal support types are still quite low, with their needs for these benefits largely outweighing what they actually received.  For example, 57% of international hires in China still missed intercultural training, and 51% would have liked to receive access to local socializing opportunities. In the Netherlands, 62% missed access to local networking opportunities, and 59% would have liked to receive membership in an expat organization.

A connection between the support offered and the happiness of international hires with their life, in general, could also be drawn from the findings. For example, international hires in the Netherlands that were more supported practically and personally were happiest of those in all the featured countries, and those in the UK and Hong Kong that were poorly supported had some of the lowest happiness ratings.  


Find out more in the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country FocusThe 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. 


The complete article was originally published by HR Technologist in May 2019.

Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus

Expat Insider 2018 | Business Edition Country Focus

A Snapshot of 9 Featured Countries

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