Study: Expats Love their Work, Report Better Job Satisfaction

In a study compiled by global insurer MetLife, “US Employee Benefits Trendy Study,” globally mobile employees are more than twice as likely as their non-expat peers to recommend their organization as a place to work. The survey had more than 5,000 respondents, all employers and employees with expat experience. Overall, expatriates reported better job satisfaction.

This runs counter to the perceived challenges expats reportedly face when moving to another country. It is common to read stories of how expats can feel isolated when they move to another country, but professionals nowadays are a different breed altogether. They are more globally mobile and aware of their international job assignment’s culture. The internet has clearly provided a window to the world that allows expats to manage their expectations well and come out more satisfied in their move than expected.

The figures are good overall, as echoed by Relocate Magazine. About 91 percent of globally-mobile employees receiving expatriate benefits were satisfied with their jobs compared to 73 percent of their colleagues who had not taken foreign assignments. Similar percentages reflected the two group’s commitment to their companies’ goals.

Let’s not discount the fact that many expats are also well-traveled and well-educated. The study found that globally-mobile employees were generally more educated than their stay-at-home counterparts, with 31 percent of the former having advanced degrees compared to 22 percent of the latter. Some 29 per cent of expat employees were under 45 years and in executive leadership roles.

MetLife states that customizing benefits for this highly motivated group should be a business priority and could provide a long-term payoff when it comes to loyalty and productivity. It added, “Becoming a globally-mobile employee means leaving behind familiar safety nets and operating in new work environments, so this reliance on employers for security is a high priority.”

When benefits are explained clearly, it works out for all. Two-thirds of expat staff said they would like to receive specific support to navigate local healthcare systems. While 64 percent of employers said they offered such a service, only 42 per cent of employees believed they had this service as part of their benefits package.

The right approach for employers who want to further engage this group is to customize benefits packages, according to MetLife. “Customization helps ensure globally-mobile employees will thrive in their work and personal lives, successfully adjust to new surroundings, and cease worrying about support for potential health and financial security issues.”

As companies expand globally, executives are increasingly being tapped for expatriate assignments. The idea is to spread talent, expertise, and knowledge from headquarters to foreign offices, and vice versa. 

It’s not all good for companies even if their expats are satisfied. Relocate Magazine states that these are expensive moves — $311,000 per year, according to a report by PwC — and many fail to generate a return on investment. 

One other thing that causes the assignment to fail is that the partner or family is unable to acclimate to the new environment. The one without the career is the one who feels naturally left out, especially if they are not allowed to work.

What global mobility managers can do is help them through the various states of a move, even before the move. A systematic approach involves taking them through the decision making process, preparation, moving, and, finally, settling in.

Laying out the full implications of a career move is very important. Global mobility managers can help expats factor in housing, timing of the move, support network, schooling and the tradeoffs involved in these choices. 

The housing part is not to be downplayed, as it’s the first thing that comes to mind for expats before they make the move. Fortunately, California Corporate Housing  makes the transition easier by providing them with the housing they need that fits their needs.