Overseas returnees return to Hong Kong for familial reasons, but satisfaction levels at work not high


Hong Kong’s repatriated talent who have worked or studied abroad have returned to be closer to their families. However, their satisfaction levels in their current roles leave much to be desired, according to recruitment experts Hays.

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 locations in China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

In the survey directed at overseas returnees based in Hong Kong, Hays uncovered the motivations of repatriated talent. A clear majority (73 per cent) cited ‘being closer to their family’ as the primary reason for moving back to their country/region of origin. Second to that was ‘better job opportunities’ (45 per cent), while third was ‘the culture and lifestyle in their home country/ region’ (39 per cent).

Hays also asked candidates who have studied or worked overseas, “What is the level of satisfaction for your current position?” to which almost a quarter (24 per cent) of Hong Kong returnees said ‘not at all satisfied’. In addition, while ten per cent were ‘slightly satisfied’, 18 per cent said they were ‘moderately satisfied’.

Commenting on this, Dean Stallard, Managing Director at Hays Greater Bay Area says, “There is much room for improvement when it comes to satisfaction levels of overseas returnees in the workforce. They are more likely to gravitate more towards employers who have relevant HR policies in place which provide desired non-monetary perks such as flexible working hours or health and wellbeing benefits."

“Individualised retention plans should also be in place while keeping in mind the different needs and motivations between overseas returnees and local employees. After all, top on their list of reasons to return to their country or region of origin is to progress in their careers. When managing overseas returnee employees, line managers are therefore urged to be particularly conscious and transparent during appraisals and have open discussions about career development and performance assessment.”

Across Asia

Most overseas returnee talent across the region (58 per cent) cited being closer to family as their main motivation for repatriating to their place of origin. Respondents in Hong Kong led the way with 73 per cent citing this reason. By contrast, only 45 per cent of Singaporeans felt the same.

Other reasons for returning included, ‘the culture and lifestyle in their home country/region’ (voted by 32 per cent) and the ‘opportunity to progress and develop my career’ (voted by 34 per cent). The least likely motivation was ‘to start their own business’ (voted by 12 per cent).

When it comes to satisfaction levels in their current role, overseas returnees are generally only ‘moderately satisfied’, with three in ten (30 per cent) saying so. In addition, close to one in five (18 per cent) said they were ‘not at all satisfied’ and 14 per cent said they were ‘slightly satisfied’. Japan had the most respondents who say they were ‘not at all satisfied’ (29 per cent) and ‘slightly satisfied’ (26 per cent), while China had the least saying so (11 per cent and three per cent respectively).

Request your free copy of the 2019 Hays Asia Overseas Returnees Report here.


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

Hays is located in Hong Kong at 6604-06, 66/F, ICC, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2018 the Group employed 11,700 staff operating from 262 offices in 34 locations across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2018:
– the Group reported net fees of £1.072 billion and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £243.4 million;
– the Group placed around 77,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 244,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 19% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 24% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 31% in Rest of World (RoW);
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following locations: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA