This year, NetExpat and EY returned to update their findings. Sam Pinney, Director Benelux/ APAC Client services & Global Advisory for NetExpat said:

“Originally launched in 2018 by NetExpat, in partnership with EY, the Relocating Partner Survey is the most comprehensive benchmark survey ever conducted related to the spouses and partners of transferees. The 2023 survey leveraged the historical data from the last 5 years, along with new feedback from corporate HR representatives, mobile employees and their partners to showcase perspectives from these three different viewpoints.”

For the 2023 report, the team added in more topics to reflect the changing priorities within the industry. Specifically:

  • The effect of hybrid and cross-border remote work
  • Family Experience
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)

Looking Beyond the Employee

As with the 2018 survey, this new work provides new insight into the priorities and needs of employees and their families.

Crucially, employees and their partners feel that employers have listened and begun to prioritise the Family Experience. This has seen corporate programmes begin to reflect the needs of families more accurately. As the report highlights “the well-being of the family is a key component of the services companies should consider offering in an international relocation package”.

We can see the success of these new look programmes in the survey results. Looking at partner support, for example, only 31% of employees felt that employers were doing enough in 2018. This has jumped to 55% in 2023.

Additionally, offering support beyond the employee enhances the DE&I agenda of the employer.

Changing Attitudes

Increasingly relocating employees are coming from Generations Y and Z, which is seeing a shift in priorities for partners.

Specifically, when we look at the importance of second incomes, younger generations find two incomes to be more important than previous generations. We see this in the survey results with second income being important to 69% in 2018, rising to 74% in 2023.

This new breed of mobile talent is also expecting more from their prospective employer. Especially when it comes to supporting their partner and family. Whilst corporations are evolving their programmes to offer more services to the family, there is still work to be done to meet the expectations of new, relocating employees.

The Importance of Family

It is crucial that employers who are seeking the best international talent keep these changes in mind. When we look at the most common reasons for assignment rejection, 3 of the top 6 relate directly to family. By not creating a programme which proactively supports the partners and family as a whole, key talent can be lost.

Beyond the initial acceptance, when common reasons for failed assignments are reviewed, family is a key factor here too. In fact, 74% of respondents listed their partner not being happy as a factor in the failure and 38% included issues with their children.

How to Improve the Family Experience

We are already seeing a shift in the approach of employers. The focus is moving from “cash” to “care”.

Where ten years ago 61% of businesses would use a cash allowance to attract partners, this has now dropped to 36%. In its place, we’re seeing an increase in direct support to the partner, with 69% of employers offering this and 51% offering integration support for non-working partners.

Additionally, the pre-decision consultation is an emerging practice which shows great promise. These can be used to reassure the employee and their family before they make the decision to become mobile. Whether handled by internal HR assets or external providers, these are a great opportunity to proactively address common assignment rejection issues.

Corporations are increasingly offering support through a peer-to-peer system. This sees a person with whom the family/partner identifies offering support to the family. This is an extremely effective and cost-efficient way to provide tangible support to the partner and family. This also provides a framework for monitoring and proactively addressing the common reasons for failed assignments before they become critical.

All of this leads to a stronger framework for talent retention, which is the best outcome for all involved.

Our thanks to NetExpat, especially Sam Pinney, for the agreement and support for us to produce this brief for our ABRA members. If you would like to look deeper into their results, you can download your own copy of the report here.





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