MetLife study shows significantly higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and productivity among globally-mobile employees compared to employees who have not taken foreign assignments

As employers across the globe continue to identify strategies for winning the war for talent, a detailed look into MetLife’s findings from its 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) found that globally-mobile employees, defined in the study as expatriates and inpatriates, are more than twice as likely as their non-expat peers to recommend their organization as a place to work.

Ninety-one percent of globally-mobile employees who receive expat benefits are satisfied with their jobs compared to 73% of their colleagues who have not taken foreign work assignments. Additionally, 91% of those same employees are committed to their organization’s goals, compared with 72% of their colleagues. These figures indicate that taking foreign assignments while receiving benefits improves employee perception of their employer as well as their on-the-job experience.

“Globally-mobile employees lean on strong relationships with their employers to navigate work and life in a foreign country,” said Ann Deugo, vice president and head of MetLife Worldwide Benefits. “When the employer can make this a positive experience, these employees will reward their employer with increased loyalty, enthusiasm, and commitment.”

The case for customized benefits

Bolstering employee benefits packages has always been part of talent retention and acquisition strategy for employers looking to differentiate themselves. A snapshot of globally-mobile employees indicates they are generally more educated (31% have an advanced degree compared to 22% of their counterparts) and, 29% of globally-mobile employees are under 45 years of age and in executive leadership roles. Customizing benefits for this highly motivated group should be a business priority and could provide a long-term payoff when it comes to loyalty and productivity.   

Additionally, globally-mobile employees believe, more than other employees, that employers have a responsibility to provide personal and family security through employee benefits. Seventy-six percent of them state they are looking to their employer to achieve financial security through employee benefits compared to 60% of other employees. Becoming a globally-mobile employee means leaving behind familiar safety nets and operating in new work environments, so this reliance on employers for security is a high priority.

Employers will only reap the benefits of employee loyalty, however, if their employees are aware of the benefits offered. The study found that a perception gap exists between what employers offer their globally-mobile employees and what these employees think they receive. For example, two-thirds of globally-mobile employees said they would like to receive specific support to navigate the local healthcare system. While 64% of employers said they offered that service, only 42% of globally-mobile employees said they have this service as part of their benefits package. 

The right approach for employers who want to further engage this group is to customize benefits packages. Customization helps ensure globally-mobile employees will thrive in their work and personal lives, successfully adjust to new surroundings, and cease worrying about support for potential health and financial security issues.

Added Deugo, “There is immense potential for leveraging the commitment and loyalty of globally-mobile employees. By demonstrating enthusiasm for your brand, they become brand ambassadors who add value to any business.”

Research Methodology

MetLife’s 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study was conducted in October 2018 and consists of two distinct studies fielded by Engine Insights — a practice area of Engine, a data-driven marketing solutions company.

The employer survey includes 2,500 interviews with benefits decision makers and influencers at companies with at least two employees, including 768 with decision makers with responsibility for expatriate benefits at multinational companies. The employee survey consists of 2,675 interviews with full-time employees, ages 21 and over, at companies with at least two employees, augmented to include 454 interviews with globally-mobile employees, defined as being an inpatriate (n=296) workers in the U.S. on a work visa or company-sponsored assignment for at least six months, or expatriate (n=158), U.S. citizens who have lived and worked  outside of the U.S. for at least six months.

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About MetLife Worldwide Benefits

MetLife Worldwide Benefits has been providing personalized solutions for globally-mobile employees for nearly 60 years. MetLife Worldwide Benefit’s products are underwritten by Delaware American Life Insurance Company, a MetLife affiliate domiciled at 600 North King Street, Wilmington, DE, 19801, and other affiliates. For more information, visit