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The biggest (positive and negative) drivers behind expats’ wellbeing

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In a recent survey, 2,000 expats from countries, including Southeast Asia, were asked: “having moved to [country], how has your overall wellbeing been impacted by each of the following factors related to your working life?”

The factors presented in the Aetna International survey, titled The International Workforce Well-Being Survey 2019, included: wage levels; HR or other support; presence/absence of discrimination; working practices; employee rights; and corporate culture.

Of all these factors, 28% of respondents found wage levels to have the only significant positive impact on overall wellbeing at the workplace.

On the other hand, corporate culture had the most negative impact on overall wellbeing according to 21% of expats surveyed, and was considered negative seven times more than it is positive.

In terms of HR and other support received, this factor largely had no impact on the expats’ wellbeing, while it was one of the lowest factors to reduce the expats’ well-being (the least being wage levels).

 

How wage levels impact wellbeing for expats who are unhappy or happy about their move

Despite wage levels having the most significant impact overall wellbeing, when broken down, it only impacted 1% of expats who were happy they had moved. Instead, a majority felt it did not impact them (66%), while one in three (33%) felt it reduced wellbeing.

On the contrary – while the same percentage of respondents who wished they hadn’t moved felt wage levels did not impact their wellbeing, one in four (20%) saw an improvement as a result.

Coming to corporate culture, just 4% of expats who were unhappy with their move believed it reduced their wellbeing, and slightly more than two-thirds (77%) felt no impact.

Last, in the case of those who were glad they moved, a similar 4% reported a reduction in their well-being due to corporate culture; while one in three (33%) saw an improvement.

While HR and mobility leaders may not be able to fully control the factors that affect an expat’s well-being on an assignment, every role they play can still be significant. For instance, it will be good to have a checklist that can help ensure a successful international assignment and bring more positive outcomes for them.

About the survey

The survey was conducted in 10 different countries (200 individuals per country):

  • Singapore;
  • Thailand;
  • Canada;
  • Hong Kong;
  • India;
  • Indonesia;
  • Mexico;
  • Spain;
  • UAE;
  • UK.

All the respondents had to have been no more than five years into their time away from home, and had to be earning in the top 25% of incomes for the country they live in, to exclude lower income, transient migrant workers.

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