Expats on reassignment need more community-based perks

Published:  24 Apr at 6 PM
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As purse strings tighten in a good number of expatriate professional destinations worldwide, questions are being asked about the suitability of various relocation support programmes.

As currency exchange rates and soaring inflation hit out at expats’ expenses in many popular destinations, questions are being asked about the need for certain aspects of relocation packages. One good example of the detrimental effects of rising costs of living on expats’ quality of life is Hong Kong, still one of the world’s favourites with high-skilled expat assignees. One recent survey indicated that around half of respondents would appreciate more personal support in the form of networking and socialising opportunities.

For those unfamiliar with the perks associated with taking on jobs overseas, the most generous allowances go to those who’re being sent abroad by their present employers. Although these perks are welcomed by assignees, the generosity usually applies to work-related expenses, with personal support lacking in the majority of cases. Foreign assignees usually get a lump sum intended to help with the cost of relocation of around 74 per cent, with two-thirds of employers also organising the move itself as well as dealing with service providers. Other informational or financial assistance is based more on work-related issues but leaves out networking, socialising and membership of local expatriate organisations.

When asked by the survey to stipulate which perks would be most beneficial from the perspective of assignees, 79 per cent hit on expat organisation membership, 68 per cent stated access to local networking opportunities, 50 per cent suggested socialising facilities, 47 per cent cited language classes and the same percentage suggested intercultural training. These results suggest the majority of assignees would prefer to have better communication with local people and less emphasis on perks such as additional spouse support. Given that adjusting to a new culture, new work norms, a new language and new neighbours is crucial to a fast entry to the new job and workplace, it seems employers looking to reassign their workers might like to recalculate how they judge the usefulness of their perks.
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