Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition: Loneliness Is Top Reason for Early Return of International Employees

10 Sep 2019

InterNations Business Solutions today published the Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition, offering the latest expat perspective on global mobility and international recruiting. 

The Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition reveals that up to 25% of international employees consider an early return, which could lead to expat assignment failure and talent loss.  

According to the report, about a quarter of international employees are currently considering an early return.
This is 
despite the fact that the vast majority of international employees moved abroad with a mid-to-long-term perspective. When asked about their motivation for leaving earlier, loneliness is named as a key reason for them not seeing the plan through. While most international employees are happy abroad and would recommend expat life to their friends, the lack of socializing opportunities represents the main reason for discontentedness.                                 

Expat Insider Business Edition 2019-cover











Theresa Häfner, Head of Business Solutions at InterNations: 

International employees face the challenge to create a new social network in the new country. This challenge, paired with the language barrier and cultural differences, easily leads to loneliness. Not addressing these types of issues may lead to an increased risk for employers, such as assignment failure or international talent loss. At a time when the global war for talent is rife, employers need to be on top of their game — now more than ever. With the Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition, our aim is to encourage this new thinking of supporting expats where they really need it.” 

Expectations About Life Abroad Don’t Always Meet the Reality 

Practical aspects of life abroad tend to dominate the list of the main concerns that employees mention most frequently before a relocation. However, these concerns do not always match the realities of life in the new country of residence: When asked about their satisfaction with their life abroad, the aspects that attracted the highest dissatisfaction were difficulties with their personal life, while financial and practical concerns ranked very low on the list of issues.  


Access to Social Networking Is the Biggest Need

Concerns about not being able to make new friends turned into a reality for employees abroad: Three-in-ten international employees were worried about this before moving, and 31% of Foreign Assignees as well as 32% of International Hires state to struggle with this issue after their relocation.   

The report findings also highlight the lack of socializing opportunities as the top driver of unhappiness in the new country of residence. Of those who state they are unhappy, 59% of Foreign Assignees and 50% of International Hires who took part to the survey are unhappy about this factor. 

The Big Divide Between Personal and Professional Relocation Support 

For international employees, personal issues, such as a lack of socializing opportunities, are the main drivers of unhappiness. However, the report shows that the relocation support offered by employers is often not suitable to mitigate this issue. International employees are more likely to receive practical support from their employer, such as financial support or having the move organized by their employer or a service provider. A service such as access to social networking represents one of the least commonly received type of relocation service — at 14% for Foreign Assignees and 12% for International Hires. 

Striking the Balance Between Work Life and Personal Life

As the Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition indicates, international employees are better supported with their professional life than with their personal life, which might also explain why they show higher levels of satisfaction with career-related aspects of their life abroad. For example, 61% of International Hires and 64% of Foreign Assignees are satisfied with their career prospects.   

However, while general career development represents the biggest motivation for international employees moving abroad, reasons relating to work-life balance, such as personal development, better compensation or benefits, and new experiences outside of work, also play a role. 

Theresa Häfner comments: “Striking the balance between work life and personal life is becoming increasingly important for employees as new generations join the global workforce. Generation Xers and Millennials, who represent the largest share of the survey respondents, put more emphasis on creating work-life balance. While this is an important factor for all employees, it is particularly relevant for international employees who need to settle into a new workplace and country.” 

Ups and Downs During the Expat Lifecycle

International employees do not only need more well-rounded support, but they also need it throughout the expat lifecycle. According to the survey findings, during the honeymoon phase, the first months after relocation when all aspects of life abroad are still new and exciting, satisfaction with life abroad is usually high.  

Nevertheless, international employees have an increase in dissatisfaction when the honey-moon phase is over and the daily routine kicks in — this is a critical phase in terms of feeling settled and establishing personal support and social networks with locals and other expats.  

About the Expat Insider Business Edition 
The Expat Insider Business Edition explores global talent mobility through expat eyes. It is based on the InterNations Expat Insider survey —  one of the world’s largest and most comprehend-sive surveys on life abroad. In total, 20,259 expats from across the globe took part in the survey. The Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition focuses specifically on Foreign Assignees, International Hires, and Relocating Spouses with the aim to provide an expat perspective on global mobility and international recruiting.

About InterNations Business Solutions
InterNations Business Solutions provides expert insights and personalized solutions for global mobility and HR professionals to ensure successful foreign assignments and improved international talent retention. InterNations is the world’s largest expat network with more than 3.5 million members and 420 communities worldwide. Through the InterNations Corporate Membership, expat employees and their families are empowered to quickly and easily integrate abroad through peer-to-peer support. This helps them through the most critical onboarding phase and seamlessly integrates them into their new home country for the entire time abroad. In turn, they are more productive at work and save global mobility and HR professionals time and costs.

Press Contact

Birte Pampel
Media Spokesperson

+49 (0)89 461 3324-86

InterNations GmbH
Schwanthalerstrasse 39
80336 Munich, Germany

Caroline Harsch
Caroline Harsch
Media Spokesperson

Media Resources

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