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Global Talent Mobility: The Missing Link in Expat Support

30 Oct 2018

Global Talent Mobility is more than a buzz word — it is a wide and diverse group of people who, for professional reasons, move to another country and leave their old life behind. The key account manager from Paris who starts an assignment in Dakar, the IT specialist from Bangladesh who joins a start-up in Hamburg, the partner who starts to look for a job in the new home country all belong to this group. Employers with a long-term interest in the well-being of their expat employees usually provide various degrees of relocation support. Yet how well do they know the needs of these different expat types?  What do expats have to say about the support they receive from their employers? What is missing from the existing support programs? A new report by InterNations Business Solutions shows how expats rate the social and emotional disruption behind a relocation, and what they would like to receive in terms of support. Companies thus gain insights into existing and desired elements of support, the ease of settling in, the factors that lead to happiness or unhappiness among expats, and their family situation. The report looks at the three expat types most relevant to international employers: foreign assignees, international hires, and the relocating spouses of these expats. Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition is based on the renowned Expat Insider survey, which InterNations has been conducting since 2014 and includes responses from more than 18,000 expats. The report is geared at global mobility professionals and decision-makers, as well as HR professionals recruiting employees abroad.


Considerable Gap in Social Integration

Moving assistance, a lump-sum payment for relocation-related expenses, language classes: employers provide a large variety of support in order to help their employees through a relocation, and overall, employees seem to be rather satisfied with their life abroad. On average, three quarters of all questioned expats said that they were satisfied with life in general. Yet the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition leaves no doubt about the area where action is required: social integration. When asked what type of relocation support they would have liked to receive, more than sixty percent of all expats mentioned opportunities for socializing. Of the foreign assignees, 60% expressed this need, while 59% of the international hires and 65% of relocating spouses also indicated this. The numbers are similar in terms of the desire for local networking opportunities and the wish to become a member in an expat organization. If opportunities for social interaction are missing from the expats’ lives, this had a strong correlation with their well-being: Foreign assignees and international hires unhappy about their situation said that a lack of socializing opportunities was the most important reason for their unhappiness, while for the relocating spouses, it was the second biggest contributor. “When foreign assignees or international hires go through a relocation, they leave their friends, supporters, and professional contacts behind. A large number of expats are obviously struggling to rebuild their social network abroad. This process does not happen by itself, it requires active involvement from the employers,” says Theresa Häfner, Head of InterNations Business Solutions. 

Support Should Go Beyond the Onboarding Period

Many employers focus their expat support on the challenges of the onboarding period, i.e. the first six months after the relocation of an employee. Ideally, the expats have organized their life and their family matters by this time and are able to reach high productivity levels in the job. The data from the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition, however, illustrates a different picture: While all expat groups experienced a slight high during the “honeymoon phase”, their sense of being settled did not improve within the first two to five years: For foreign assignees, it remained at 55% and for international hires, it declined from 55% to 53%. Among the relocating spouses, 49% were satisfied with the ease of settling in during the first six months, a figure which rose to 54% after a period of two to five years.

International Hires and Relocating Spouses Need Special Attention

Sending an employee on a global assignment presents different challenges than hiring an employee from abroad. Yet, comparing these two groups and the partners of these expats can provide a new perspective for employers seeking to align their support strategies. Thus, the report makes it clear that international hires generally receive less support than foreign assignees — even though they leave their country of origin permanently and face the challenge of having to rebuild a new network not only in their private life, but at work as well.

“Recruiting and integrating international hires is a practice that is relatively new to many employers, which is why they often lack the structures and the know-how to support their expats adequately. Companies with global mobility teams are much more experienced in this regard and could turn into a source of knowledge for international talent management,” Häfner says. “With our report, we would like to foster this exchange about expat support across departments and invite employers to strengthen their expertise in supporting expats and their partners in all relevant areas of business.”

About the Expat Insider Business Edition

Expat Insider is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on life abroad. It takes a look at the world through expat eyes in the form of an overall ranking of common expat destinations and information. In total, 18,135 expats from across the globe took part in the survey. They represent 178 nationalities and are living in 187 countries or territories. The new Expat Insider Business Edition looks at global talent mobility through expat eyes on a global level. Therefore, the business report focuses specifically on the following three expat types: Foreign Assignees (respondents that were sent abroad by their employer), International Hires (respondents that were recruited by a local company), and Relocating Spouses (respondents that moved abroad together with their partner). The report also focuses on these expat types during various periods of their stay abroad and looks at those with dependent children. The following core chapters are focused on: Relocation Support, Ease of Settling In, Happiness, and A Glance at Family Life. Download the report at

About InterNations Business Solutions

InterNations Business Solutions was recently launched by InterNations, the world’s largest network for professionals living and working abroad with 3.3 million members and 420 communities worldwide. The goal of the new division is to develop B2B solutions for global employers. The solutions enable companies to improve the success of foreign assignments and to boost their employer attractiveness to top international talent. InterNations Business Solutions regularly provides insights about global talent mobility, including the annual Expat Insider Business Edition, which in 2018 was based on a survey with 18,135 expats worldwide.

Find more information about InterNations Business Solutions on XING, LinkedIn and on our division website.

Press Contact

Birte Pampel
Media Spokesperson

InterNations GmbH
Schwanthalerstrasse 39
80336 Munich, Germany

Tel: +49 (0)89 461 3324 86




Birte Kristina Pampel
Media Spokesperson

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