However, despite the homeward drift from those who live overseas, and the post-Brexit implications for millions, Covid-19 has done little to dampen the aspirational nature of the expat lifestyle.
The appetite to experience life overseas has increased, with nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of people currently based in their home country expressing a desire to relocate. Thirty-five per cent of local employees have cited better job opportunities and career paths as their top reason, with other key motivators including the desire to broaden cultural experiences (35 per cent) as well as learn new skills (27 per cent).
The survey also found that while expats reported higher well-being scores than local employees, HR and business leaders need to prioritise adequate Whole Health support systems for the expat workforce amid pandemic fatigue and uncertainty about the future.
Eighty-nine per cent say they are suffering from stress compared to 81 per cent of locals – with family finances (30 per cent), lack of job opportunities (24 per cent) and education (16 per cent) topping the list of concerns.
Expats report high resilience
Of the working expats surveyed who have been living abroad for one to two years, only 47 per cent are confident that they can maintain their current standard of living and less than half (44 per cent) say they have enough financial security to support their families in case of emergencies.
Almost a third (30 per cent) of all expats thinking about relocating back home cite future finances as one of their top concerns. Despite this, close to half (45 per cent) of expats have reported high resilience compared to 37 per cent of local employees living in their home countries.
Arjan Toor, CEO at Cigna Europe, commented: “As these individuals continue to face challenges such as travel restrictions and financial worries, it is critical that organisations provide the necessary support for expat employees as they adjust to their new work and home life.
“Whether it is helping inexperienced expat professionals settle into a new country or providing longer tenure expats with ongoing support to manage stress, supporting their whole health should be a key priority as we usher in different ways of living and working.”
However, according to a survey by global health insurer Aetna International, three quarters of expats are looking forward to things getting back to normal.