Insufficient Benefits for Global Employees in Germany

20 Mar 2019

Global employees in Germany do not seem to be well-supported by their employers when it comes to relocation. While Foreign Assignees are more likely to receive practical support, such as the organized move or a lump-sum payment, International Hires are left behind. “When it comes to benefits for International Hires, international recruiting can learn from global mobility management,” says Theresa Häfner, Head of Business Solutions at InterNations. “Companies in Germany are in need of skilled professionals from abroad but in order to stay competitive in the war of talent, they have to support them more.”

On a global scale, employers in Germany lag behind with benefits for both International Hires and Foreign Assignees. Countries, such as the Netherlands, excel in supporting global employees. They set a benchmark for employer assistance and show that employees that are better supported with their relocation and integration experience an easier, shorter adjustment period and a higher satisfaction with life in general. “Moving abroad comes with organizational as well as emotional challenges,” says Häfner. “If Germany wants to stay an attractive destination for global talent, employers need to understand the relevance of both practical and personal support for their employees.”

In the newly released Expat Insider Business Edition Country Focus report, InterNations Business Solutions takes a closer look at nine different types of relocation support that global employees and their partners receive from companies. In addition to Germany, the report looks at the situation of expats who moved abroad for work and live in China, France, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK, and the USA. The report focuses on the benefits that International Hires (found a job abroad on their own or were recruited by a local company), Foreign Assignees (sent abroad by their employer), and Relocating Spouses (moved abroad with their partner) receive, as well as the types of support they would have wanted. It reveals the inequality in benefits received in Germany, and the negative impact of missing relocation support and access to socializing opportunities on the happiness and well-being of global employees and their partners.

International Hires Receive Less Practical Support than Foreign Assignees

International Hires in Germany received considerably less benefits than Foreign Assignees in the country: while 81% of Foreign Assignees in Germany were offered an organized move, just 38% of International Hires received the same offer. On a global level, both expat types lack in practical support, with global employees in China, the Netherlands, the UAE, and Switzerland more commonly receiving an organized move from their employer.

The list continues with lump-sum payments, which are received by 61% of Foreign Assignees and just 33% of International Hires, information on local life (45% vs. 37%), and additional spouse support (32% vs. 13%). The latter would be more than useful as Relocating Spouses do not receive enough support themselves.

In fact, only language classes seem to be a real consideration for companies to offer to International Hires: half of them (50%) received this benefit, which is 23 percentage points more than the global average (27%) and the highest share across the nine featured countries. However, the share of Foreign Assignees being offered language classes in Germany is again even higher (59% vs. 37% globally).

Even When Supported, It Is by Far Not Sufficient

While Foreign Assignees seem to receive more support than International Hires, the Expat Insider Business Edition Country Focus reveals that neither expat type is sufficiently supported. For example, 43% of Foreign Assignees in Germany did not receive any information on local life but would have wanted it. Another 49% of them missed intercultural training. When it comes to International Hires, 48% and 54%, respectively, shared the same desire.

The Lack of a Social Network

What global employees in Germany seem to miss the most are opportunities to build their social network: 68% of both International Hires and Foreign Assignees were not offered access to local networking opportunities but wanted it. For International Hires, this is the highest share among the nine featured countries, together with the UAE. The same is true for 65% of International Hires and 63% of Foreign Assignees, when asked about their desire for local socializing opportunities.

The support that the lowest share of global employees in Germany received, but most of them wanted, is membership in an expat organization. In fact, just 8% of International Hires and 4% of Foreign Assignees were offered this, but 69% and 74%, respectively, wanted it. The latter is the second-highest share of Foreign Assignees in the nine featured countries missing this type of support. Only those in Hong Kong (79%) indicated a greater need.

Feeling Lonely and Unhappy

With the lack of a social network, it might be no surprise that global employees in Germany find it extremely hard to get settled compared to expats working in other countries: 44% of International Hires do not feel at home in the local culture, which is the highest among the countries included in the report. Globally, just 30% of International Hires state they do not feel at home in their new country of residence.

It seems like making local friends is the biggest challenge, with 60% of International Hires and 57% of Foreign Assignees indicating that it is difficult (vs. 43% and 41%, respectively, globally). “I do not like the language barrier and unfriendly locals,” says a Kenyan female International Hire, while a US American male Foreign Assignee shares that “it is difficult to make meaningful friendships” in Germany. In fact, when it comes to International Hires in the nine featured countries, only those in Switzerland find it harder to make local friends (66%).

International Hires Unhappier than Foreign Assignees in Germany

Maybe this is the reason why International Hires in Germany, compared with those in the eight other countries in the report, are among the unhappiest: just 65% say they are generally happy with their life, which is a lower share than in the UAE (71%), Switzerland (72%), France (74%), China (76%), the USA (78%), and the Netherlands (84%).

Despite their similar struggles in terms of settling in, Foreign Assignees are significantly happier with their life abroad. In fact, 79% of Foreign Assignees in Germany are generally satisfied, which is 14 percentage points higher than the share of International Hires (65%).

The fact that Foreign Assignees at least received more practical support, could be a reason for this higher positive rating. In comparison, Relocating Spouses also received practical support — such as the organized move and lump-sum payments — more often than International Hires, and are also happier with their life in general (74%).

Global Employees in the Netherlands are Best Supported and Happiest

Compared to the other countries featured in the report, employers in the Netherlands are at the top when it comes to supporting their global employees. They offer their International Hires and Foreign Assignees a variety of both practical and personal benefits — and set a benchmark at that.

For example, 50% of International Hires received the organized move, and 49% received the lump-sum payment, which is both higher than the global average (43% and 36%, respectively). Additionally, close to one-third of International Hires in the Netherlands (32%) received access to local socializing opportunities, compared to just 20% globally. Another 22% received access to networking opportunities (vs. 17% globally), and 12% were offered the membership in an expat organization (vs. 8% globally), which are the highest among the featured countries.

The survey results indicate that the well-rounded support by their employer is beneficial for global employees. In fact, 74% of International Hires and 80% of Foreign Assignees find it easy to settle down in the country — again the highest shares among the countries featured. It might be no surprise then that they are also happiest: 84% of International Hires indicate happiness with life in general (vs. 71% globally) and 86% of Foreign Assignees say the same (vs. 80% globally).

About the Expat Insider Business Edition Country Focus
The very first Expat Insider Business Edition Country Focus zooms in on Foreign Assignees, International Hires, and Relocating Spouses in nine featured countries (China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United Stated of America). It is an extension of the Expat Insider Business Edition, launched at the end of 2018. It provides valuable insights for global mobility and HR professionals supporting expats. All findings are based on the InterNations Expat Insider survey, one of the world’s most comprehensive expat surveys — 18,135 expats from across the globe took part in the 2018 survey. Important: The choice of the nine countries was solely based on having a big enough data sample. These countries are not ranked in the report, but comparisons are made between the countries. Global percentages for the expat types are also compared.

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 3.4 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 87

InterNations GmbH
Schwanthalerstrasse 39
80336 Munich, Germany

Caroline Harsch
Caroline Harsch
Media Spokesperson

Media Resources

Press Kit | InterNations Business Solutions

Get information, visuals, and more. Download now


Get the logo in different formats. Download now


Get photos, infographics, and more. Download now