Preliminary conclusions of two surveys conducted by Global Connection – one in conjunction with RES Forum– through up some startling results, "Even when companies provide support for expat partners planning to return to the workforce, the majority of partners don’t even know about it!"

Return to work: support often not recognised
The preliminary conclusion of two surveys we conducted at Global Connection – one in conjunction with RES – is that even when companies provide support for expat partners planning to return to the workforce, the majority of partners don’t know about it.

Supporting repatriated partners
How do you address the concerns of expat partners who wish to return to work after repatriation and who are worried about their labour market chances? By offering support, of course, but what is the role of the HR / Global Mobility community in communicating or clarifying this support? We believe this is the central question after conducting two surveys – one in conjunction with RES Forum.

Results from initial analysis
We are still analysing the outcome of both surveys but our preliminary evaluation has already highlighted one glaring issue: while support for repatriating expat partners is clearly important to expat partners, only a minority of companies give this type of support. What is even more striking is that even when support is available, the majority of expat partners are unaware.

Ignorance is not bliss
By way of example, let’s look at a repatriated partner who took part in our survey. She had been abroad for five years and during that time her husband’s employer paid her substantial lump sums via her husband’s bank account. That money was also meant to facilitate her return to work when re-entering the workforce. As she was not aware of this she did not spend it on studies, or consult a career coach, which she now realises would have helped her enormously.

Proactive communication is vital

Her conclusion is that her husband’s company did not give her the support she needed. So what lessons can be drawn from this? In our view: it’s vital to proactively communicate to expat partners exactly what kind of support is available to them. As for the second lesson: allocating partner support for specific goals also avoids doling out what might mistakenly be perceived to be “Gucci money”.

Henk Dam
Research & Consultancy Expat Partner Support
Global Connection

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