International survey has UK sliding down the rankings

Last week saw the annual BAFTA awards, honouring the best in the UK TV and film industry and highlighting the popularity of our products in the world, but it seems the UK can’t expect awards as a destination for high-skilled workers in any industry or sector. 

Our economy needs international talent, but the UK’s popularity as a place to move to for work continues to decline. Internations, the international professional networking group, surveyed 18,000 expats and the results are sobering. The UK continues to fall down the rankings and now appears in the last 10 of 68 countries overall, alongside countries such as Greece, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Lowlights of the UK in expat approvals:

48th for ease of settling in

42nd for family life in general

45th for quality of life

32nd career prospects and satisfaction 

64th personal happiness


The Expat Insider 2018 survey report

published by InterNations.

Depressing reading indeed for organisations that need to attract the best global talent. What can be done to make people want to come and stay once they are here?

Fortunately, Internations has issued a further report focused on the UK, that can provide some clues. The report delves deeper into some of the most important factors and those where the hiring organisation can make a difference. 

It also differentiates between different kinds of relocaters: assignees – who are sent here by their employers; international hires – who are directly employed by local companies; and relocating spouses – who move together with their partner. 

A careful reading of this report suggest to me that there are some relatively easy solutions that can have a big impact.

What are the key problems?

Practical assistance in making the move happen

This is the support most routinely offered in the form of a lump sum payment and/or organising the move. Assignees sent from abroad fare slightly better than the global average with 68% receiving cash to help with the move, compared to 65% globally. However, international hires fare particularly badly, with only 19% reporting having had this help compared to 36% globally. The picture is similar for helping with organising the move. 66% of assignees report having this help compared with 75% globally, whereas the figures for international hires are again poor, 23% compared with 43% globally. 

This is a clear indication that the offer of finance and logistical support for international hires needs to be higher in order to remain internationally competitive.

Training in intercultural skills and language

Language training is offered much less frequently than on average globally. Interestingly, those reporting an unmet need for training were typically lower than globally, perhaps reflecting the good level of english the relocaters already had. The picture is somewhat different for intercultural training, however, where the offering for international hires and relocating spouses was particularly low at 5% and 4% respectively, whilst the reported unmet need for training ranged from 32% to 47%. 

It seems that relocaters and their families need help in navigating the complexities of their new environment.

Social embedding and wellbeing

Most striking however, is the poor picture in the areas of social embedding and wellbeing. More than half of each of the groups say they have an unmet need in developing local socialising and networking . And the picture is particularly poor for all kinds of support for relocating spouses, with support ranging from just a quarter to a half of the level of support achieved on average globally. 

This report indicates a clear and pressing need for organisations to support their relocaters beyond the physical move in order for them and their families to settle in the local area and achieve wellbeing. 

What can your organisation do to support incoming talent?

Offer flexible individual onboarding coaching 

Assignees and international hires are a disparate group, and each individual is likely to have different needs. Offering one-to-one coaching allows their specific needs to be met most efficiently. Consider what kind of coach you want to hire. Ideally you want one who can cover both the on-boarding and professional development needs, as well as someone who can signpost the way into local society. So go for a qualified and competent coach who is local to your organisation. 

Create social networks

Our experience of running our own Welcome Club for globally mobile people in our area is that it is a great way to get people feeling at home. Members support each other with friendship, practical support and top tips, and as a result they get to feel more settled and happy. Could you create networks for employees and for families within your company? Supporting such groups with local facilitators can reduce the organisational burden and accelerate integration. We offer groups both within one company and cross-company to achieve this. 


Don’t forget the accompanying spouse and children

The low level of support and huge unmet need for relocating spouses is of particular concern. It is widely recognised that an unhappy familiy is a major reason for expats to move on. Accompanying spouses need support, both if they are looking for work themselves and to get the family settled. Support for children may be essential too as some make the transition more successfully than others. Again, flexibility is important, so offer your newcomers a choice in whether they want coaching for spouse or children and offer a range of social support. 


About Enhanced Relocation

Enhanced Relocation offer packages of coaching, training and community support to employees and families relocating to the heart of England.