Three quarters (74%) of expatriates (expats) living in South Africa came to the country seeking adventure. Nearly as many also believe that South Africa offers a better quality of life with a 40% lower cost of living than they would have experience at home…

What’s more, 68% of these expats – or sometimes referred to as globally mobile individuals – said that they are satisfied or completely satisfied with their move, and 67% satisfied or completely satisfied with their career prospects, as revealed in the 2017 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey, in collaboration with Hollard.

The survey also revealed that expats stay in South Africa for seven years, on average, which is significantly longer than expats who choose to stay in other countries.

The 2017 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey looked at the health, well-being, and sense of security among 2 000 globally mobile individuals living in 20 markets across five continents. Perceptions of physical, financial, social, family and work health among expats were examined and compared with all working people.

“This could be one of the most significant human capital challenges for organisations that depend on expat talent and that believe in nurturing and rewarding this talent,” says Gilles Nyssens, Business Development Director Africa at Cigna.

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Quality of medical care is a concern

Further challenges arise from the fact that expats around the world, including those working in South Africa, share a high level of concern about the quality of medical care available in the countries in which they operate.

They generally have a lower perception of the state of their personal health and wellness than the overall working population, and they are concerned about the financial consequences of falling ill.

Expats in South Africa are on an equal footing with their contemporaries abroad when it comes to financial security, with only 12% confident that they have financial security should they be unable to work, 23% confident that they have the financial ability to meet their family’s medical needs (compared to 26% elsewhere), and just 12% saying that they are confident that they have enough money to retire (compared to 13% of globally mobile individuals elsewhere).

“These findings come as no surprise at a time where there is increasing pressure on corporations and NGOs around the world to demonstrate adequate “duty of care” when it comes to employees.

This duty of care places on employers an onus to take all steps reasonably possible to ensure the health, well-being and safety of their employees and their families, wherever they may be in the world,” explains Nyssens.

More than a quarter (27%) of global expats, and 38% of expats in SA, feel subject to an insufficient duty of care. This percentage is expected to be higher for other African countries, where access to medical care is much more limited.

The message is clear among globally mobile individuals – health and well-being are as much a priority as job opportunities and salary.

Many expats invest in property

The survey also revealed that expats working in South Africa choose to invest locally, with 34% owning property in the country, compared to a global average of 18% of expats who own property in their current location.

Expats in South Africa are happier at work than any other expat population, with nearly 70% citing this as a reason to stay, with the group saying that they are happier with their social context here than any other expat population too.

This is in sharp contrast to the high number of high-net-worth South Africans understood to have left the country citing turmoil, security concerns, and access to education as their reasons for emigration.

“For organisations that understand that expat talent deployed into the burgeoning markets of Africa is more than a commodity, engaging the hopes and fears of this globally mobile employee segment is important.

“Far more important, however, is providing solutions to the dilemmas faced by those building careers away from their home country. Having a great health plan represents a fine start,” concludes Nyssens.