A clear majority of employers in Singapore are eager to employ an overseas returnee in the coming year, and they cite ‘cross-cultural awareness’ to be the top benefit that returnee talent can bring to the table.
These are few of the key findings in the 2019 Hays Overseas Returnee Report, which highlights overseas returnee recruiting trends based on responses from both candidates and employers residing in the five Hays Asia operating markets in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
In the survey, Hays asked candidates who have studied or worked overseas, “Would you be willing to hire a local returnee in the next 12 months?” to which 82 percent of employers in Singapore said ‘yes’.
Employers were also asked about the benefits overseas returnees could bring to their organisation. While 79 percent voted ‘cross-cultural awareness’, this was followed closely by 71 percent who said ‘different perspectives on business’ and 62 percent who said ‘overseas commercial experience’ were key advantages of having overseas returnees in their workforce.
Positive perception of overseas returnees
The global recruitment firm revealed that the high confidence in overseas returnee talent is not unfounded. Many employers report to have had good experiences with their overseas returnee staff and would, in fact, play advocate for the hiring of skilled candidates who have worked or studied abroad.
When asked about their satisfaction rates of overseas returnee staff, 39 percent of employers in Singapore were ‘satisfied’ and nine percent were ‘very satisfied’, while only two percent were ‘unsatisfied’ or ‘very unsatisfied’. This has translated into nine in ten employers willing to recommend employing an overseas returnee to their peers.
Commenting on the findings, Grant Torrens, Regional Director at Hays Singapore said, “With dwindling confidence in recruiting locally for the essential talent needed to drive growth, employers look with favour on overseas returnees who bring ample value to the table.”
“Overseas returnees are therefore in a good position to highlight their experiences working or studying abroad. They could stand to benefit from displaying their cross-cultural awareness in particular, and how it would help improve existing business processes and translate into business value. Many firms hold in high regard the international experience and local cultural understanding that overseas returnees can offer in the country’s globalised economy. Overseas returners should therefore take advantage of the existing market situation that favours them.”
Overall, eight in ten hiring managers across the region are keen on employing overseas returnees. The keenest employers were Hong Kong (88 percent) and Mainland China (87 percent), while the least keen were Japanese employers (67 percent).
When it comes to satisfaction levels of overseas returnee employees, many employers in Asia reported above average contentment, with 40 percent saying they were ‘satisfied’ and 13 percent saying they were ‘very satisfied’. Only three percent are ‘unsatisfied’ and one percent ‘very unsatisfied’. The most satisfied lot are Mainland Chinese respondents with 53 percent and 11 percent who were ‘satisfied’ and ‘very satisfied’ respectively. The relatively least satisfied employers are those from Japan with 7 percent saying they were ‘very unsatisfied’.
Overseas returnees are generally coveted for their ‘cross-cultural awareness’ (voted by 72 percent), ‘language and communication skills’ (68 percent) and ‘different perspectives on business’ (64 percent). While the top benefit for employers in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Japan was ‘language and communication skills’, for employers in Singapore, it was ‘cross cultural awareness’ and in Malaysia, ‘different perspectives on business’.
This has resulted in 82 percent of employers across the board being willing to hire an overseas returnee in the coming year. The most willing was Hong Kong at 88 percent, and the least willing was Japan at 67 percent.
Hiring managers were also asked if they would recommend peers within their industry to hire local returnees. Nine in ten (90 percent) said a resounding ‘yes’, with Hong Kong being the most likely to do so (94 percent), and Japan the least likely (84 percent).