The career of the partner is already a major issue for companies who want to send employees on an international assignment, and will be more so in the future. This finding from a recent survey underlines the importance of support to partners who want to return to work after repatriation.

Dual career issue

In the authoritative 2015 trends survey, conducted by Brookfield Global Relocation Services, international companies were asked if the dual career issue has an impact on their ability to attract employees for an international assignment. Yes it does, said 35%. When asked if they think the issue will become more important in the future, 69% said it would.

Partners’ concerns about work

The companies speak from experience. Already, according to the survey, the career of the partner/spouse is the second most mentioned reason for international assignment refusal. And in the recent joint Global Connection/RES Forum survey, no fewer than 96% of HR/Global Mobility respondents said there is (probably) a link between assignment refusal and the expat partner’s concerns about finding a job after repatriation.

Provide support early

All these figures clearly indicate the importance of addressing the concerns of expat partners, 88% of whom, according to one of our own surveys, want to return to work when they go back to their home country. In our view, this support should be offered at the earliest stage possible, so before the decision to move abroad is made.

Proactive approach

It is only by taking this proactive approach that an alternative perspective can be offered to the reluctant partner. They should think for instance about activities to be undertaken abroad when a paid job is not possible which are relevant to the job market in the home country. Or the way professional competencies can be maintained or developed. Or how a network should be kept up-to-date. Repatriating partners have plenty of ways to increase their chances in the job market. But they have to start looking for them as soon as possible.

Henk Dam
Research & Consultancy Expat Partner Support Global Connection