Strong social connections key to expat success

Compared to their home-based peers, employees who live and work overseas are more likely to excel in fostering connections and enthusiasm at work.
By: | April 19, 2024

One in five globally mobile individuals achieve the highest levels of vitality, according to the latest Vitality Study unveiled by Cigna Healthcare. Despite facing personal and professional hurdles, these individuals showcased adaptability and resilience, outperforming their domestic counterparts in health metrics.

Titled Newcome Needs – How the Globally Mobile Work and Live, the study shed light on the experiences of those who live and work overseas. Specifically, globally mobile individuals boast an average vitality score of 71.7, surpassing their counterparts residing in their home market, whose vitality score averages 66.7.

It was also found that they are 10% more likely to foster strong connections and 12% more energetic and enthusiastic at work. Additionally, they exhibit high scores in intellectual vitality, showcasing a keenness for learning, and environmental vitality, indicating a sense of safety and wellbeing in their surroundings.

While most are satisfied with their relocation, financial difficulties, homesickness, work-life balance, and health concerns persist. Approximately 77% of respondents have faced at least one challenge in the past six months.

Wendy Sherry, CEO, Global Health Benefits, International Health, Cigna Healthcare, emphasised the importance of addressing all dimensions of vitality for balanced wellbeing, and said, “It’s common for globally mobile individuals to suffer social isolation, which can compound emotional difficulties or aggravate stress and burnout. The workplace is often their most valuable social outlet. Boosting occupational wellbeing and workplace culture is an effective lever to pull for improving globally mobile employee health and retention.”

And despite experiencing higher levels of stress (86%) and burnout (96%) compared to local counterparts, globally mobile individuals demonstrate better mental wellbeing (58% reporting excellent or very good mental health). This suggests resilience and potentially a view of stress as an inherent part of relocation.

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Jason Sadler, President, International Health, Cigna Healthcare, acknowledged the challenges faced by globally mobile individuals but emphasised their commitment to wellbeing. He urged employers to prioritise social, professional, and mental health support, and concluded, “By doing so, organisations can foster a workplace culture that attracts and retains the best talents from around the world.”