Missing Benefits for International Hires in the USA
27 Mar 2019
International Hires in the USA 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 need to better support skilled professionals from abroad in order to stay competitive, especially in the war for global talent.”
On a global scale, employers with expats that moved to the USA for work 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 the USA 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 so far unreleased 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 the USA, the report looks at the situation of expats who moved abroad for work and live in China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UAE, and the UK. 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) received, as well as the types of support they would have wanted. It reveals that International Hires in the USA are not well supported by their employers, compared to Foreign Assignees in the country and International Hires in the other featured countries. While Relocating Spouses are also not as supported as Foreign Assignees, they receive better assistance than International Hires in some cases. International Hires do, however, receive some socializing support, which could be why they struggle less with settling in.
International Hires Receive Less Practical Support than Assignees and Spouses
Practical support types are lacking for International Hires in the USA. They receive benefits, such as having their move organized, a lump-sum payment for expatriation-related expenses, and additional spouse support, much less than Foreign Assignees and Relocating Spouses in the country.
Only 37% of International Hires in the USA were offered an organized move by their employers, compared to 77% of Foreign Assignees and 68% of Relocating Spouses. The picture is similar for the lump-sum payment, with only 26% of International Hires receiving monetary support, compared to 71% of Foreign Assignees and 65% of Relocating Spouses. Even in terms of additional spouse support — which is usually less commonly offered — larger shares of Foreign Assignees (34%) and Relocating Spouses (27%) in the USA received it, when compared to International Hires (14%).
For all three types of relocation support, the share of International Hires receiving it is also below the global average, while the share of Foreign Assignees is always slightly above the global average. In these instances, employer support for Foreign Assignees sets a benchmark for those supporting International Hires.
Overall Employer Support for International Hires Is Below Global Average
For eight of the nine types of relocation support mentioned in the survey, the shares of International Hires in the USA that received them are smaller than the global averages. These support types are: language classes (7% vs. 27% globally), intercultural training (9% vs. 14% globally), additional spouse support (14% vs. 17% globally), access to local networking (14% vs. 17% globally), membership in an expat organization (5% vs. 8% globally), information on local life (32% vs. 38% globally), an organized move (37% vs. 43% globally), and the lump-sum payment (26% vs. 36% globally).
However, the survey results indicate that International Hires in the USA need these types of support. For example, more than half of the International Hires (51%) did not receive intercultural training but would have liked it. The desire for a lump-sum payment (61%), access to local socializing opportunities (61%), membership in an expat organization (68%), and access to local networking opportunities (64%) was even higher.
Employers Support International Hires More Positively with Socializing Opportunities
While they lag far behind with practical support, employers are seemingly doing a better job in supporting International Hires in the USA with access to local socializing opportunities — 20% received this, which is equal to the global average as well as International Hires in the UAE. Only those in China (33%) and the Netherlands (32%) have larger shares that received it. For this more personal type of support, the share of International Hires that received it in the USA is even larger than of the Relocating Spouses (12%) and Foreign Assignees (11%).
Settling In Has Its Pros and Cons
Maybe it is due to the slightly better personal support that 73% of International Hires in the USA find it easy to get used to the local culture, which is much higher than the global average (56%). Of the featured countries, they are most content with this aspect of settling in. Furthermore, 58% are satisfied with feeling at home in the American culture (vs. 52% globally) — again the highest share, together with International Hires in the UAE.
Additionally, 57% of International Hires find it easy to make new friends in the USA (vs. 50% globally) and 51% find it easy to make local friends (vs. 36% globally). In terms of making new friends, only International Hires in the UAE (61%) are more satisfied. Interestingly, a larger share of International Hires there received access to socializing opportunities as part of their relocation support, which could be a reason for the more positive satisfaction ratings.
However, the survey results indicate that despite the ease of getting used to the local culture, International Hires still struggle with feeling at home in the USA. Just 58% of them state to feel at home, which is still slightly above the global average (52%) but 15 percentage points lower than those saying it is easy to get used to the local culture. This might be due to the fact that, although access to socializing is more commonly offered to International Hires in the USA compared to some of the other featured countries, 61% of this expat type still did not receive this type of support although they would have liked it. The same is true for 66% of Foreign Assignees. Similarly, the share of Foreign Assignees stating to feel at home in the USA (59%) is about the same as for International Hires and is just two percentage points above the global average (57%).
International Hires Are Very Happy, but Not as Happy as Foreign Assignees
Of the International Hires in the nine featured countries, those in the USA are second-happiest with life in general with 78% indicating happiness; only those in the Netherlands are happier overall (84%). Globally, 71% of International Hires are happy with their life abroad. Even so, Foreign Assignees in the USA who are more supported by their employers, are also happier. More than four in five (83%) state to be happy with their life, which is just above the global average (80%).
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.
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