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Choose a country – if possible, one that you have personal experience with. Explain why, in your opinion, this would be a challenging country for an expatriate coming from the U.S. If possible, use a personal example or an example of someone you know. Select the top three challenges you believe this expatriate would face and present your recommendations for overcoming these challenges. Support your rationale with at least TWO resources.

Cite your references.

Expat Insider 2019
Business Edition
A Look at Global Talent Mobility Through Expat Eyes

2Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

5 Introduction
Supporting Expats Where They Really Need It

6 Executive Summary
Big Needs to Strike the Balance Between Work Life and Personal Life

8 Survey Methodology
Methodology

3Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

28 Foreign Assignees
29 Moving Abroad for Work
33 Relocation Support
41 Ease of Settling In
50 Family Life
51 Happiness

15 Survey Demographics
16 Expat Statistics

10 Profile References
11 The 3 Expat Types
12 Foreign Assignees
13 International Hires
14 Relocating Spouses

4Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

Inquiries and Publishing Details

120 Press & Publishing

90 Relocating Spouses
91 Moving Abroad for Work
95 Relocation Support
102 Ease of Settling In
110 Happiness
116 Family Life

57 International Hires
58 Moving Abroad for Work
62 Relocation Support
70 Ease of Settling In
79 Family Life
80 Happiness

5Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

It is that time of the year again. Time to get the latest expat
perspective on global talent mobility. After the success of
the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition and the report being
shortlisted for the Best Research Contribution at the Think
Relocate Awards, I am pleased to present to you the Expat
Insider 2019 Business Edition.

It is based on the Expat Insider survey, one of the world’s
largest surveys on expat life, with 20,259 expats from
across the globe participating in 2019.

With this business edition of the Expat Insider, we aim
to provide an expat perspective on global mobility and
international recruiting. Our goal is to assist global mobility
and HR professionals to better understand the needs
of Foreign Assignees, International Hires, and Relocating
Spouses and to manage resources more efficiently.

The Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition provides valuable
insights in a time where the global war for talent is rife.
Recruiting beyond the local market presents new tasks
and challenges. Therefore, improved employer branding
and attractive benefit packages are important in attracting

and winning global talent. Another aspect is increasing the
willingness of global talent to move abroad by mitigating
concerns, such as being far away from loved ones, loneliness,
dealing with the language barrier, the potential high cost of
living, and not being able to make friends. Employers also
need to react to the development of dual career couples
and have more on offer for Relocating Spouses, as well as
consider the impact of new generations, such as Millennials,
that have different needs and expectations.

Not addressing these types of issues could lead to an
increased risk for employers — 21% of Foreign Assignees
and 25% of International Hires are considering an early
return. It is crucial that employers stay on top of their game
— now more than ever.

This report provides insights into how these expats
experience life abroad — from the relocation support
they receive to how easily they settle in. The findings show
a clear trend that Foreign Assignees, International Hires,
and Relocating Spouses all desire a balance between their
work life and their personal life. While their career and job
satisfaction stand out as positives for Foreign Assignees

and International Hires, not being able to make friends,
socialize, and settle into the local culture are key reasons
for dissatisfaction with life abroad. Surprisingly, this also
stands out when comparing these two expat types to
the Average Expat (total survey respondents). Relocating
Spouses, on the other hand, are greatly dissatisfied with
their career prospects (57% are not working) and desire
access to professional and social networking, as well as
spouse support.

These and other insights could help global mobility and
international HR professionals to shift focus to more
innovative and holistic solutions to support the various
needs of these expats — throughout the expat lifecycle.
Our aim is to encourage this new thinking of supporting
expats where they really need it.

Enjoy exploring the new insights!

Theresa Häfner
Head of Business Solutions at InterNations

Supporting Expats Where
They Really Need It

Introduction

Back to Table of Contents

6Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insiderBack to Table of Contents

Big Needs to Strike the Balance Between
Work Life and Personal Life

Executive Summary

these, 41% received spouse support. These percentages
indicate that spouse support is necessary.

Foreign Assignees are most satisfied with their financial
situation, their job overall, and job security. They are least
satisfied with making friends and feeling at home in the local
culture, and have low satisfaction ratings for aspects relating
to their personal life. They also experience ups and downs
with these factors throughout the expat lifecycle. Therefore,
their needs for support with these aspects are valid.

Of those that are happy abroad, 57% state they are happy
with their job — the top happiness contributor. However,
of those that are unhappy, large shares indicate the main
causes for unhappiness are not having enough socializing
opportunities (59%) and the lack of a personal support
network (42%). (For more on Foreign Assignees, see p.28)

International Hires move abroad with a long-term
perspective. However, a quarter plan to leave earlier than
expected, with the lack of employer support and loneliness
being key reasons for an early return.

The largest share of International Hires (45%) consists
of Millennials — also known as Generation Y. The biggest
motivations for International Hires moving abroad are
general career development and better compensation
or benefits. Other reasons, such as more attractive
employment opportunities, more senior positions, personal
development, and new experiences outside of work also
stand out.

Employer support, however, seems to be letting them
down. They more commonly receive financial support than
specific services. However, just under half (49%) received

Foreign
Assignees

Career development is the core motivation for this expat
type moving abroad, but reasons relating to work-life
balance, such as personal growth and new experiences
outside of work also stand out. Notably, 21% are
considering an early return with loneliness as a top reason.

In terms of employer relocation support, Foreign Assignees
are the most supported expat type when compared to
International Hires and Relocating Spouses — 81% received
reimbursement, 59% received a lump-sum payment, and
58% received specific relocation services.

Of those that didn’t receive specific services but wanted it,
the top needs are access to professional networking, social
networking, and information on local life, as well as local
settling-in services. Of all Foreign Assignees, 34% moved
with their partner or their partner joined at a later stage. Of

International
Hires

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Executive Summary: Big Needs to Strike the Balance Between Work Life and Personal Life

reimbursement for relocation-specific expenses and 30%
received a lump-sum payment. A large 67% did not receive
any specific relocation services — a very noteworthy
share. When comparing these numbers to what Foreign
Assignees received, international recruiting still has some
way to go in terms of relocation support. This lack of
support could also be why a quarter of International Hires
don’t feel at home abroad yet and 16% state they never will.

The top reasons for their dissatisfaction abroad are not
being able to make friends and not feeling at home in the
local culture. Their satisfaction ratings with all aspects of life
abroad also decrease after the honeymoon phase.

The imbalance between the work life and personal life
of International Hires is also clear from their happiness
ratings — job satisfaction is the top reason for happiness
(60%) for those that are happy abroad. However, for
those that are unhappy, not having enough socializing
opportunities is their top reason (50%) for unhappiness.
(For more on International Hires, see p.57)

Financial dependence on their partner was the top concern
for Relocating Spouses before they moved abroad for
their partner’s career. With a total of 57% of them not
being employed, it is not surprising that this concerned
them.

While more than three-quarters of Relocating Spouses
(87%) are highly educated and hold bachelor,
postgraduate, or PhD qualifications, many participating
in the survey voice their frustration and dissatisfaction
with being at home, either taking care of their family,
volunteering, looking for work, or not being able to work.

In terms of relocation support, Relocating Spouses are
more likely to receive reimbursement for relocation-specific
expenses (61%) than the lump-sum payment (42%) and
specific relocation services (45%) — an area where they
seem to need support most. The relocation services they
indicate as being top needs are access to professional
networking (47%), spouse support (40%), and access to
social networking (39%).

These needs also mirror the aspects that they have the
highest dissatisfaction ratings for — career prospects,
making friends, feeling at home in the local culture, and job
security. Moreover, their struggles with their career and
social integration last throughout the expat lifecycle.

Further strengthening this notion is the fact that of those
that are unhappy abroad, the top reasons are the lack of
a personal support network (49%), being unable to work
(47%), and not having enough socializing opportunities
(44%).

Their relationship with their partner seems to be the most
positive and stable aspect of life abroad — they are most
satisfied with their relationship (84%) and it is their top
happiness contributor (65%).

Those with dependent children living abroad with them
(39%) also indicate struggles with balancing their family
priorities with their personal and professional priorities.
(For more on Relocating Spouses, see p.90)

Relocating
Spouses

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Methodology
Survey Methodology

23% (4,690) are International Hires, and 7% (1,325) are
Relocating Spouses.

The survey results published in this report give an overview
of these three expat types — in many instances also
compared to the total survey respondents. The results
also look into specific topics and challenges relating to the
employers of these expats or their partners. There are
three core chapters representing each expat type: Foreign
Assignees, International Hires, and Relocating Spouses.
Within these chapters, the following topical sections look
deeper into the expat types: Moving Abroad for Work,
Relocation Support, Ease of Settling In, Happiness, and
Family Life. Additionally, the results focus on the expat types
during various periods of their stay abroad.

The survey questions for the Moving Abroad for Work
and Relocation Support sections were structured around
discussions with and feedback from employers, while the
focus of the Ease of Settling In, Happiness, and Family Life
sections is on social aspects of expat life.

Moving Abroad for Work

This section focuses on the main motivations of expats
moving abroad for work, as well as their time living abroad,
the intended length of stay, and the time it took to settle in at
their job. Respondents were also asked whether they plan

an early return. Those that indicated they were considering
returning early or had left a previous country of residence
earlier than expected were asked to select reasons for their
decision.

Relocation Support

For this section, survey respondents were asked questions
about the types of support employers offered during their
relocation process — financial support (reimbursement
for relocation-specific expenses and a lump-sum payment
for expatriation-related expenses) and specific relocation
services (such as an organized move or settling-in services).
These three types were grouped due to the various
methods employers use to support expat employees —
either only repaying them for relocation-specific expenses
(reimbursement), offering an amount for any possible
expatriation-related expenses (lump-sum), or offering more
specific relocation services — or combinations of the three.

The questions were specifically asked to respondents who
indicated they moved abroad for either their own or their
partner’s work. The report also looks at how far specific
services were not received but wanted.

Respondents that indicated they received reimbursement,
a lump-sum payment, or specific relocation services were
asked about their satisfaction with the financial support

The Expat Insider 2019 survey was conducted by
InterNations and ran from 7 to 28 March 2019. The
online survey was promoted through the InterNations
community, newsletter, and the company’s social
media profiles. The target audience included all kinds
of expatriates, from Foreign Assignees — expats in the
typical sense of employees on a foreign assignment —
and International Hires to self-made expats relocating
for a better quality of life. Responses were not limited to
members of the InterNations community.

A total of 20,259 expatriates took part, representing 182
nationalities and living in 187 countries or territories. The
Expat Insider 2019 survey results are published in the form
of an overall ranking of common expat destinations and
information regarding the following five topical indices:
Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family
Life, and Personal Finance.

The Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition focuses specifically
on the following three expat types on a global level, based
on their main reason for relocating: Foreign Assignees
(respondents that were sent abroad by their employer),
International Hires (respondents that found a job abroad on
their own or were recruited internationally), and Relocating
Spouses (respondents that moved abroad together
with their partner for their partner’s job). Of the total
survey respondents, 10% (2,008) are Foreign Assignees,

9Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

their own. Factors included topics such as feeling at home
in the local culture, making new friends, and the overall job
satisfaction. This report shines a light on rating results by
each expat type and looks at ratings during various time
periods of their stay abroad.

Happiness

For this section, respondents were asked to rate their
happiness with life in general on a scale of one (not happy
at all) to seven (very happy). In this report, both the negative
(1–3) and the positive ratings (5-7) have been combined,
while the neutral results (4) stand on their own. Depending on
whether they rated their happiness positively or negatively,
respondents were given a list of possible contributing
factors and asked to choose up to three.

This report looks at the happiness among the three expat
types, as well as their ratings during various time periods of
their stay. However, only among International Hires were
there enough respondents to look at the happiness and
unhappiness contributors over time.

Family Life

The survey results in this section focus on the family setup
of expats and those raising children abroad. Respondents
with dependent children were asked to rate various aspects
of family life abroad on a scale of one (not satisfied at all/
do not agree at all) to seven (completely satisfied/agree
completely). Relocating Spouses with dependent children
were also specifically asked to rate their ease of adjusting
to life abroad. In this report, both negative (1-3) and positive
ratings (5-7) have been combined, while the neutral results
(4) stand on their own.

and the usefulness of the services received. In terms of
their satisfaction with the reimbursement and lump-sum
payment, respondents were provided with a specific list of
answers indicating either “yes” they were satisfied or “no”,
with possible reasons why not. In terms of the specific
relocation services, respondents could rate the usefulness
of the relocation services received on a scale of one (not
useful) to five (very useful). For the report, negative (1-2) and
positive ratings (4-5) have been combined while the neutral
results stand on their own. The rating process emphasizes
respondents’ personal satisfaction with these factors.
Respondents who rated the usefulness of a received
relocation service as not useful were also provided with a
selection of options as to why these were not useful.

Ease of Settling In

For this section, respondents were asked to rate different
factors related to their life abroad on a scale of one (not
satisfied at all) to seven (completely satisfied). In the report,
both the negative ratings (1-3) and the positive ones (5-7)
have been combined, while the neutral results (4) stand on

Important Note
Please be aware that all percentages in this report
have been rounded to full integral numbers. In some
cases, this may lead to responses to one question
adding up to either 99% or 101%, instead of 100%.
These instances are simply due to rounding and are
not based on erroneous data.

Survey Methodology

Back to Table of Contents

1010Back to Table of Contents Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

Profile References
11 The 3 Expat Types
12 Foreign Assignees
13 International Hires
14 Relocating Spouses

11Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insiderBack to Table of Contents

Foreign Assignees (respondents that were sent abroad
by their employer), International Hires (respondents
that found a job abroad on their own or were recruited
internationally), and Relocating Spouses (respondents
that moved abroad for their partner’s job) are at the

center of this report. The expat typology is based on
the survey respondents’ primary motivation for moving
abroad. The emphasis is specifically on these expats as
they are key figures in global talent mobility. Insights
into challenges relating to them and their employers

could, therefore, be of value to industry professionals.

Of the total survey respondents (20,259), 10% are
Foreign Assignees, 23% are International Hires,
and 7% are Relocating Spouses.

The 3 Expat Types
Profile References

12Back to Table of Contents Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

Foreign Assignees
Profile References

Relocation Support
81% received reimbursement

59% received a lump-sum payment

58% received specific services

Relationship Status
62% in a relationship 38% single

43.9 years old
Average Age

Gender
62% male38% female

Family Life

34% relocated with partner/partner
joined later

24% have dependent children living
abroad with them

Main Motivations for Relocating

Ease of Settling In

60% feel at home abroad

23% don’t feel at home abroad yet

17% don’t think they ever will feel
at home abroad

Satisfaction with
1. relationship with partner/spouse
2. financial situation
3. job security

Dissatisfaction with
1. making new friends
2. feeling at home in the local culture
3. socializing and leisure activities

Top Relocation Services Wanted

34% social networking
32% professional networking
28% information on local life &
settling-in services

Happiness

79% are happy with life in general

Top Happiness Contributor

Top Unhappiness Contributor

happy with job

not enough socializing opportunities

Early Return
21% consider an early return

Top reason: loneliness

Top Industries

13% manufacturing & engineering

11% finance

11% IT

1. general career development
2. more senior position/responsibility
3. better compensation/benefits

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International Hires
Profile References

Relocation Support
49% received reimbursement

30% received a lump-sum payment

33% received specific services

Relationship Status
54% in a relationship 46% single

41.9 years old
Average Age

Gender
45% female 55% male

Family Life

22% relocated with partner/partner
joined later

16% have dependent children living
abroad with them

Main Motivations for Relocating

Ease of Settling In

60% feel at home abroad

25% don’t feel at home abroad yet

16% don’t think they ever will feel
at home abroad

Satisfaction with
1. relationship with partner/spouse
2. financial situation
3. job overall & working hours

Dissatisfaction with
1. making new friends
2. feeling at home in the local culture
3. socializing and leisure activities

Top Relocation Services Wanted

39% local settling-in services
36% language classes
30% access to professional networking
& organized move

Happiness

71% are happy with life in general

Top Happiness Contributor

Top Unhappiness Contributor

happy with job

not enough socializing opportunities

Early Return
25% consider an early return

Top reason: loneliness

Top Industries

14% education

12% IT

10% other

1. general career development
2. better compensation/benefits
3. better employment opportunities

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Relocating Spouses
Profile References

Relocation Support
61% received reimbursement

42% received a lump-sum payment

45% received specific services

7% single
Relationship Status
93% in a relationship

43.7 years old
Average Age

Gender
81% female 19% male

Family Life
39% have dependent children living
abroad with them

42% find it easy to find and join a
parent’s club

50% find it difficult to balance family,
personal, and professional life

Concerns Before Relocating

Ease of Settling In

56% feel at home abroad

25% don’t feel at home abroad yet

19% don’t think they ever will feel
at home abroad

Satisfaction with
1. relationship with partner/spouse
2. financial situation
3. working hours

Dissatisfaction with
1. career prospects
2. making new friends
3. feeling at home in the local culture

Top Relocation Services Wanted

47% access to professional networking
40% spouse support
39% access to social networking

Happiness

73% are happy with life in general

Top Happiness Contributor

Top Unhappiness Contributor

happy partner/family

lack of personal support network

Early Return
22% consider an early return

Top reason: loneliness

Employment Situation
57% not working

25% working full-time

18% working part-time

1. financial dependence on partner
2. language barrier
3. high cost of living

15Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider 15Back to Table of Contents

Survey Demographics
16 Expat Statistics

16Back to Table of Contents Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

Survey Demographics

Expat Statistics
MOST IMPORTANT REASON FOR MOVING ABROAD*

ZOOMING IN ON
RELOCATING SPOUSES

Of the Relocating Spouses that moved
abroad for their partner’s career or
education, the following percentages
indicate their primary motivation and
what expat type their partners are:

40% partner was sent abroad by their
employer (Foreign Assignees)

48% partner found a job on their own/
was recruited internationally
(International Hires)

4% partner wanted to go to school
or university

9% other

12% to live in partner’s home country/for love

9% better quality of life (e.g. weather/climate, health)

6% to go to school or university

6% looking for an adventure/a personal challenge

5% family reasons (e.g. originally moved with parents, for children’s future)

4% other

3% financial reasons (e.g. lower cost of living, tax issues, etc.)

3% to live in this particular country/city

3% simply enjoy living abroad

3% to start own business here

3% to retire abroad

2% political, religious, or safety reasons

1% to improve language skills

1% volunteering or missionary work

10%

23%

7% for partner’s job or education

found a job on own/recruited
internationally (e.g. by HR staff or
headhunter)

sent by employer (including
diplomatic service, NGOs, NPOs, etc.)

*Total Survey Respondents: 20,259

Moving for Work Moving for Other Reasons

Foreign Assignees

International Hires

Relocating Spouses

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RELOCATING
SPOUSES

TOTAL SURVEY
RESPONDENTS

INTERNATIONAL
HIRES

LENGTH OF
TIME LIVING
ABROAD SO
FAR

Survey Demographics

Expat Statistics

FOREIGN
ASSIGNEES

8% less than 6 months10% less than 6 months 8% less than 6 months10% less than 6 months

12% 6 months-1 year 16% 6 months-1 year 13% 6 months -1 year 14% 6 months-1 year

25% 1-3 years 31% 1-3 years 26% 1-3 years 32% 1-3 years

16% 3-5 years15% 3-5 years16% 3-5 years16% 3-5 years

17% 5-10 years15% 5-10 years18% 5-10 years13% 5-10 years

24% longer than 10 years13% longer than 10 years19% longer than 10 years14% longer than 10 years

18Back to Table of Contents Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

INTENDED
LENGTH OF
STAY

Survey Demographics

Expat Statistics

3% 6 months -1 year 3% 6 months-1 year 4% 6 months -1 year 5% 6 months -1 year

20% 1-3 years 13% 1-3 years 17% 1-3 years 24% 1-3 years

25% 3-5 years 14% 3-5 years17% 3-5 years26% 3-5 years

20% longer than 5 years 19% longer than 5 years22% longer than 5 years17% longer than 5 years

15% possibly forever 32% possibly forever20% possibly forever14% possibly forever

17% don’t know yet 18% don’t know yet19% don’t know yet13% don’t know yet

1% less than 6 months 1% less than 6 months 1% less than 6 months2% less than 6 months

RELOCATING
SPOUSES

TOTAL SURVEY
RESPONDENTS

INTERNATIONAL
HIRES

FOREIGN
ASSIGNEES

19Back to Table of Contents Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition | business.internations.org/expat-insider

1 5 94

6 7 3 1028

Survey Demographics

Expat Statistics

1 Germany 2 USA 3 Switzerland 4 UK 5 UAE

6 Spain 7 France 8 Canada 9 China 10 Italy

8% Foreign Assignees
26% International Hires
8% Relocating Spouses

MOST COMMON COUNTRIES OF RESIDENCE FROM THE SURVEY
AND THE REPRESENTATION OF THESE EXPATS THERE

14% Foreign Assignees
13% International Hires
8% Relocating Spouses

11% Foreign Assignees
36% International Hires
12% Relocating Spouses

6% Foreign Assignees
26% International Hires
6% Relocating Spouses

5% Foreign Assignees
43% International Hires
6% Relocating Spouses

6% Foreign Assignees
7% International Hires
3% Relocating Spouses

7% Foreign Assignees
17% International Hires
4% Relocating Spouses

3% Foreign Assignees
10% International Hires
2% Relocating Spouses

14% Foreign Assignees
35% International Hires
8% Relocating Spouses

8% Foreign Assignees
14% International Hires
6% Relocating Spouses

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COUNTRIES WITH THE HIGHEST
REPRESENTATION OF THESE
EXPATS BASED THERE

Survey Demographics

Expat Statistics
When looking at the survey results from both the angle of the most common countries of residence
overall (previous page) and the countries with the highest representation of these expats there,
Germany, the USA, Switzerland, the UK, the UAE, China, and the Netherlands stand out as hotspots
for those moving abroad for work. In Germany, International Hires are represented much more
commonly, while Foreign Assignees are more commonly based in the USA. Larger shares of
Relocating Spouses are based in Germany, Switzerland, and the USA.

10%
USA

6%
Switzerland

8%
Germany

2%
UAE

3%
UK

4%
China

2%
The Netherlands

2%
France

2%
Singapore

2%
Italy

4%
UK

9%
Switzerland

11%
Germany

3%
UAE

9%
USA

3%
China

3%
The Netherlands

3%
Singapore

3%
Belgium

3%
Italy

4%
USA

8%
Switzerland

10%
Germany

7%
UAE

6%
UK

4%
China

3%
Belgium

3%
The Netherlands

2%
France

2%
Qatar

Relocating
Spouses

Foreign
Assignees

International
Hires

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Survey Demographics

Expat Statistics
310 4 892

6 517

1 US American 2 British 3 German 4 Indian 5 Italian

6 French 7 Canadian 8 Australian 9 South African 10 Dutch

9% Foreign Assignees
14% International Hires
6% Relocating Spouses

MOST COMMON NATIONALITIES FROM THE SURVEY
WITH THE HIGHEST REPRESENTATION OF THESE EXPATS

7% Foreign Assignees
21% …

PREDEPARTURE TRAINING

© 2000 Lynn Witham, Kay Jones and Anthony Pan 103/0219/1500 1

Expatriate Predeparture Training, Onsite Consulting,

and Repatriation Training

By Lynn Witham, Kay Jones, and Anthony Pan

 2000 Asia Law & Practice
China Staff Training and Development Manual

Introduction

Multinational companies send employees on international assignments for the purposes of
coordinating local and headquarters management, enabling the transfer of technology, or
gaining general exposure to international business practices and/or the business practices of
headquarters. Although the number of employees selected for these assignments is
relatively small, the investments companies make in these assignments are large.

Gaining full returns on the investments made in these employees (who, along with
accompanying family members, are usually referred to as expatriates or “expats”) can be
challenging. When expats prematurely resign from their assignments or are repatriated
early by management, returns on these investments can be greatly diminished. In addition,
when assignments are unsuccessful and result in problems such as demoralization or
reduced productivity of the host workforce, or disruption of established relationships with
partners, customers, vendors, or government officials, companies can suffer business
interruptions or other indirect losses.

In order to maximize their investments, companies can provide a variety of services that
support expats before, during, and after their international assignments. These services
increase the likelihood that employees will successfully complete international assignments
and meet business objectives.

This chapter will explain three types of services that provide substantial support for
expats on international assignments, including expats on assignment to and from China.
Special focus will be placed on the first service:

• Predeparture and language training to facilitate adjustment to living and working
in the host country;

• Onsite consulting to address specific intercultural issues that arise during the
assignment; and

• Repatriation training to facilitate return to the home country.

The information in this chapter is designed to assist human resources personnel in
making appropriate recommendations and designing effective policies that can support
Chinese expats who are on assignment in other countries, as well as expats from other
locations who are on assignment in China.

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Predeparture Training

Predeparture training (also known as “cultural orientation training”) introduces expats to
the international assignment experience prior to their departure for the host country. The
purpose of predeparture training is to prepare expats to live and/or work effectively in
another culture, to interact appropriately with people of that culture, and to benefit
personally from the international assignment experience. (Note: This service should not be
mistaken for another service known as “relocation training,” which is an introduction to the
day-to-day logistics of living in the host country and is delivered by international moving
companies and other service providers shortly after expats arrive in the host country.)

A significant benefit of predeparture training is that it guides expats in developing
realistic expectations for the international assignment. The following is an actual situation
that might have been avoided had the expats involved received predeparture training:

A British man assigned to work in Beijing was certain that he would not encounter any problems;
after all, his wife was Chinese. He assumed this had prepared him well for daily life in China.
His wife, born in Shanghai, knew that she would miss some of the conveniences available in
England, but otherwise thought the assignment would be like “going back home”. One year into
the assignment, the husband was bitter and maladjusted, spending most of his time complaining
about China and Chinese people to other British expats and his wife. His wife was a virtual
recluse, associating only with her husband and one woman who shared her Chinese dialect.
“Whenever I go out,” she said, “as soon as I open my mouth (and speak Chinese) people ask me
where I’m from. They know I’m different. I don’t feel comfortable here”. Unfortunately, the
expectations of this couple were not realistic and led to disappointment.

When companies select employees for international assignments, they tend to choose
employees who have demonstrated technical expertise, management expertise, and/or
growth potential. Knowledge of the culture and business environment of the host country is
seldom a primary criterion for selection. Without this knowledge, many expats assume that
the skills and strategies that made them successful in their home country will also make
them successful in the host country. During predeparture training, expats are exposed to the
idea that an inability to work within the local system often results in an inability to achieve
business objectives, and they are given some insight into how the local system works and
how to operate within it. This and other information provided during the training can guide
expats and their families in developing realistic expectations about living and working in the
host country.

Onsite Consulting

Onsite consulting provides guidance for expats in handling business and adjustment issues
that arise during their international assignments. The purposes of onsite consulting are to

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assist expats in assessing the approaches they use to handle such issues and to provide them
with guidance in determining and implementing new approaches.

The focus of onsite consulting can be on business, performance, team, personal or family
issues. Experienced intercultural consultants can work with expats to formulate approaches
to managing current business issues and to develop contingency plans for handling issues
that might arise in the future. To optimize the overall performance of expats in the local
workplace, consultants can provide coaching on various performance issues. If expats are
team managers, consultants can assist by facilitating team meetings and conducting team-
building sessions, and by coaching expats in acting appropriately in these roles. If expats are
members of a team, consultants can coach them in intercultural meeting participation and
teamwork. Finally, consultants can counsel working expats and family members regarding
issues of adjustment and family dynamics in the new environment.

A significant benefit of onsite consulting is that it targets real issues in a timely manner.
The following are actual situations that could have been improved with onsite consulting:

An overseas Chinese manager working in China reported: “Sometimes I sit with local
employees at lunch. People come to me with complaints. I want to tell my (Western) boss
about the complaints. But he doesn’t ask me about things”. Being mindful of hierarchy, this
manager hesitated to transmit bad news without being asked. The Western boss, on the
other hand, assumed that because the overseas Chinese manager spoke English well, he
would communicate in a direct manner.

A Chinese woman working in Germany wanted to show interest in and build close rapport
with the “family” she worked with every day. Consequently, she made a daily investigation
of the contents of her colleagues’ mailboxes. She also frequently and overtly examined any
papers lying on the desk of her German male boss. In the office as well as in meetings, she
was coy and flirtatious with male colleagues; in particular, with her boss. She became
confused and demotivated after her boss called her into his office and spoke to her in a very
stern manner, telling her that her behavior must change.

Expats who have the advantage of onsite consulting are often able to handle issues
before they escalate and thereby avoid negative repercussions for the themselves, their
colleagues and the company.

Repatriation Training

Repatriation training reorients expats to their home country just prior to or just after their
return. The purposes of repatriation training are: to guide expats and family members in
reflecting on the personal changes they have experienced during their international
assignments; to prepare them for changes within their home environment and organization;
and to discuss with them how to apply the knowledge and skills that they have developed
during the international assignment to future business and social situations.

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A significant benefit of repatriation training is that it prepares expats to handle the
unexpected changes they observe in themselves, their families, their friends, their
organizations and their cultures. Had the expats in the following actual situations received
repatriation training, they might have experienced less intense reactions to the repatriation
phase of their international assignment and achieved greater productivity on the job:

An American man returned from his assignment in China to find that his next job was “not
ready” for him yet. The company found him a small office to use in the interim. It had no
windows. Completely isolated and disoriented, “I cried all the way home from work every
day for a month,” he later told a friend. After a challenging but rewarding year in China,
this former expat was unprepared to face challenges and disappointment at “home”. Within
a year, he accepted a position with another company.

An Australian woman who had recently returned from an assignment in China felt so
depressed and lethargic that she made an appointment to see her doctor. She could not
understand why she was feeling that way. She had enjoyed her time in China, learned some
Mandarin, and received excellent performance reviews. However, she was happy to be
returning home to family and friends and to a new position in her company. She was
surprised to find, though, that friends and colleagues were not very interested in hearing
about her experiences in China, and her new boss did not show any interest in utilizing the
skills and network she had developed during her international assignment. “Home” felt
provincial and cold, her productivity on the job began to suffer, and she began to wish that
she had requested an extension of her assignment in China.

As part of a comprehensive expat package, repatriation training can facilitate more
rapid readjustment of employees and their families, foster earlier productivity in new
assignments, and contribute to the retention of employees following international
assignments. While experienced expats cite the benefits of repatriation training, many
companies assume that “going home is easy” and, unfortunately, do not recognize the value
of this service.

Benefits of Expat Support Services

The provision of expat support services has wide-ranging benefits for expats and their
families, as well as for the companies that provide these services to their expats. Some of
these benefits are outlined in the following table:

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Benefits of Expat Support Services

Benefits for Employees and Families
• Enhanced understanding of and realistic expectations for the

international assignment experience
• Smoother adjustment to each new phase of the assignment
• Ability to function more productively before, during, and after the

assignment

Benefits for Companies
• Improved interpersonal relationships among expats and local staff
• Increased likelihood that business objectives will be achieved
• Decreased incidence of premature expat return and of attrition after

return
• Increased satisfaction of expats with their assignments and greater

willingness of employees to accept international assignments
• Improved global team performance

Focus on Predeparture Training: Participants

Studies repeatedly show that the most common reason for the premature repatriation of
expats is that the family is unable to adjust to life in the host country. Therefore it is critical
for non-working spouses to be included in predeparture training, or to receive separate
training. Children above the age of seven can also benefit from specially designed
predeparture training.

Adjustment is often difficult for non-working spouses, as the home environment in the
host country does not automatically provide a daily routine or human contact. While
working spouses have an office to go to and fellow employees with whom to interact, non-
working spouses must create daily routines and seek interaction with local people (many of
whom may have had little contact with foreigners). Predeparture training can help non-
working spouses build realistic expectations and introduce them to the knowledge, attitudes
and skills that facilitate smooth interaction.

Adjustment is also often difficult for children, as they must establish new friendships
(usually with children of various nationalities), identify new leisure-time activities, and
learn to function in a new educational environment. Predeparture training can guide
children in developing realistic expectations and provide them with information about the
new environment in which they will be living.

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By including the non-working spouse and children in predeparture training, companies
can increase the satisfaction of the entire family with the assignment and increase the
likelihood that the employee and family will complete the assignment successfully.

Focus on Predeparture Training: Objectives

Well-designed predeparture training programs generally seek to achieve the objectives
outlined in the following table:

Objectives of Predeparture Training Programs

1. Build realistic expectations about the international assignment

2. Increase understanding of various aspects of the host country culture,
society, and business environment

3. Prepare participants for potential culture shock in the host country and
repatriation shock when they return home

4. Make participants more aware of their own “cultural baggage” (their
behavior, perceptions, interpretations, attitudes, values, and ways of
thinking) and how these are shaped by the culture in which they have
grown up and by other cultures to which they have been exposed

5. Make participants aware of ways in which they could modify their
behavior, attitudes and ways of thinking in order to communicate more
effectively with people in the host country in a variety of business and
social situations

6. Prepare working expats to handle job roles and responsibilities in ways
that will be appropriate within the cultural and business contexts of the
host country, and within the context of the receiving organization

7. Begin to build or increase fluency in a language of the host country

8. Increase understanding of various aspects of regional cultures,
societies, and business environments in which the working expat
expects to be doing business

Focus on Predeparture Training: Length of Training

The length of predeparture training varies greatly. Determining factors include: the
commitment of senior management to providing the training, the budget available for the
training, the working expat’s job role and responsibilities, the length of the assignment, the

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amount of time the expats and people in the organization think can be allotted to the
training, and the length and timing of any scheduled follow-up onsite consulting.

Many professional interculturalists recommend that employees in high visibility, senior
management positions attend four to six weeks of predeparture training, that employees in
more junior management positions attend at least two weeks of training, and that other
employees attend a minimum of three days of training.

Depending on the skill and experience levels of participants at the beginning of training,
programs of at least two weeks can generally achieve the eight objectives mentioned in the
previous section of this chapter. Shorter programs may only briefly cover some of the
objectives. The longer the program, the greater the depth in which each objective can be
addressed.

Focus on Predeparture Training: Program Design

While many predeparture training programs are “off-the-shelf” programs, which are
delivered in basically the same format for all participants, more effective programs are
tailored to the specific needs and objectives of each participant.

In determining which topics to cover in a training program and how best to sequence
the topics, experienced trainers consider the following:

• Corporate culture of the company as a whole
• Unique characteristics of the receiving organization
• Business objectives of the international assignment
• Job role and responsibilities of the working expat
• Expectations of people in the sending and receiving organizations concerning the

international assignment
• Specific concerns, questions and interests of participants
• Personalities and interaction styles of the participants (especially in terms of how

those personalities and styles might “fit” in the host country culture)
• Attitudes of the participants about living and working in the host country
• Location(s) in which the participants will be living and working in the host country
• Amount and destination of business travel that the working expat expects to do
• Learning styles of the participants

In order to obtain the information outlined above, trainers generally request that
participants complete a written questionnaire describing their current roles and
responsibilities, their prior exposure to the host culture and other cultures, and their specific
concerns, questions, and interests. Trainers might also conduct pre-program interviews with
the participants, with human resources personnel, and with any individuals to whom the
working expat will report while on assignment.

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Focus on Predeparture Training: Components of Basic Training

Some basic predeparture training programs are designed only to facilitate participants’
acquisition of knowledge about the host country. More effective programs introduce the
idea that participants may need to develop new attitudes and skills in order to flourish in the
host country culture. These programs generally include the following five components:

Living in the Host Country:

• Presentation and discussion of general information about unique aspects of the host
country social etiquette, housing, transportation, health care, communications, safety
and security, leisure-time activities, child care, education, activities for children, and
other practical issues.

• Development of personal objectives for the international assignment.

• Discussion of strategies for how expats can become involved in the host community
by participating in sports, cultural events, educational events, and/or special interest
activities.

Communicating across Cultures:

• Explanation of tools for interacting and communicating appropriately with people
from other cultures, with emphasis on the host culture.

• Introduction to the stages and challenges of adjustment to living and working in
other cultures, as well as the challenges of returning home or taking another
assignment abroad.

Understanding the Business Environment

• Discussion of the host country’s history, economy and international relations as they
affect the present-day business environment and society.

• Introduction to and discussion of business etiquette and communication styles that
are generally considered appropriate in the host country.

Handling Job Role and Responsibilities

• Development of a work action plan.

• Exploration of the role and responsibilities of the working expat, focusing on ways in
which the host country culture might influence the expectations that local colleagues
might have for the expat’s performance in specific situations.

• Discussion of how the working expat might perform the job role, manage job
responsibilities, and meet business objectives in culturally appropriate ways.

Learning the Language

• For expats who are new to the language of the host country: Practice of basic
courtesy phrases and introduction to the structure and pronunciation.

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• For expats who will be using their own native language as their primary language of
communication in the host country: Discussion of guidelines on how to modify their
use of their native language to facilitate communication with people of the host
country who speak the language.

• For expats who are quite fluent in the language of the host country: Practice in
pronunciation and intonation of the host country language.

Focus on Predeparture Training: Components of Advanced Training

Longer, more advanced predeparture training should include all of the components of basic
predeparture training. In addition, it should reinforce knowledge acquisition, provide a
thorough discussion of business issues and encourage skill building. Advanced training
might also include activities that expose participants to aspects of the host culture, such as
dining at a restaurant that serves the food of the host culture.

The content and pace of the training are carefully tailored to meet the needs and
interests of the participants, and trainers sometimes act in a consulting role. Components of
advanced training usually include some or all of the following:

Living in the Host Country

• Guidance in developing plans to achieve personal objectives for the international
assignment.

• Discussion with expats concerning strategies for developing social and business
contacts inside and outside the company.

Communicating across Cultures

• Practice of skills for managing daily interactions with people in the host country
(such as landlords, utility company representatives, repairmen, shopkeepers, or
domestic workers) by roleplaying those interactions.

Understanding the Business Environment

• Discussion of industry-specific business practices, systems, competitor activity, and
other relevant business-related topics.

• Presentation of information about other countries in the region (if the working
expat will have regional job responsibilities).

Handling Job Role and Responsibilities

This portion of the training should be carefully tailored to the specific needs of the
working expat. It should be designed with full consideration of the working expat’s
specific job responsibilities and objectives, prior international experience, and level of
understanding of the host country culture and business environment.

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• Development of a plan for achieving professional objectives.

• Exploration of cultural differences in managerial and technical functions such as:
supervising; evaluating; training and coaching subordinates; receiving training;
goal setting; persuading; making presentations; facilitating meetings; building and
managing multicultural teams; managing and resolving conflict; as well as building
relationships and negotiating with customers, vendors, government officials and
joint venture partners.

• Application of knowledge of the host culture and principles of cross-cultural
interaction in case study situations.

• Practice in applying understanding of the host culture and the principles of cross-
cultural interaction to interacting with people of the host country in simulated
business situations. (Trainers should provide participants with feedback from the
perspective of the host culture, and work with participants to develop guidelines
and strategies for handling similar real-life situations in the future.)

• Discussion of specific business issues facing the working expat and the company in
the host country.

Learning the Language

• For expats who are new to the language of the host country: Development of basic
communication skills.

• For expats who will be using their own native language as their primary language
of communication in the host country: Practice in modifying their use of their
native language to facilitate communication with people of the host country who
speak the language.

• For expats who are quite fluent in the language of the host country: Practice to
increase language fluency in social and business situations.

Focus on Predeparture Training: Criteria for Program Evaluation

The quality of predeparture training programs offered by service providers varies greatly.
Significant criteria for evaluating the quality of predeparture programs appear in the
following table:

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Criteria for Predeparture Training Program Evaluation

• Training design is based on a comprehensive assessment of participants’
needs and interests.

• Information presented is accurate, current, practical and relevant.

• Information presented builds on what participants already know.

• Trainers “paint a realistic picture”. In other words, they include both the
pleasures and the challenges of living and working in the host country.

• Training includes a focus on the working expat’s specific role and job
functions.

• Trainers are knowledgeable, have good presentation skills, and manage
time well.

• Training is interactive, participative, and experiential, with attention paid
to the needs and requests of participants.

• Trainers demonstrate ways to apply intercultural understanding and skills
to a variety of situations.

• Trainers encourage participants to apply knowledge and experience in
analyzing situations they have encountered or in preparing for situations
that they might encounter in the future.

• Training design goes beyond providing information and includes skill
practice.

• Training introduces tools to assist participants in learning, reflecting, and
continuing to build knowledge after the training.

• Trainers model appropriate cross-cultural interaction and conflict
resolution skills among themselves and with participants.

Focus on Predeparture Training: Timing

Predeparture training is most effective when it is delivered no more than six weeks and no
less than one week prior to the expats’ scheduled departure for the host country. Preferably,
training should be delivered after the working expat has gained a clear understanding of the
new job and after the working expat, and possibly the family, have had at least one visit to
the host country.

When training is delivered too far in advance of departure, participants tend to have
less interest in the training and tend to forget more of what they have learned. If training

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occurs before participants have had any personal exposure to the host country, then they
may not be aware of what they need to know and may have difficulty participating actively
in the training. Finally, if the working expat does not yet have a clear idea of the job
description and responsibilities of the international assignment, then trainers cannot tailor
the business components of the training to the working expat’s specific business needs.

When training is delivered too close to the departure date, expats are usually
overwhelmed with all the logistical details of their relocation and therefore cannot
concentrate on the training.

By scheduling training delivery at an …

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