Survey: Family Main Reason for Returning


Recruitment agency Michael Page International released an interesting survey concluding that more Malaysians abroad are looking to move home, chiefly for family reasons.

The survey, titled “Employee Intentions Report – Malaysia 2012″ – included 5,600 Malaysians working abroad, from those in entry-level jobs to senior management.

According to Michael Page (Who is Mr Page? Sounds like a schmaltzy 1980s pop star…):

“With economic and business conditions expected to improve, many expatriates are looking to move back to Malaysia. Most of these survey respondents are mid-level employees that have most likely met their career goals while working overseas and will return home for family reasons. According to the survey findings, these professionals will be looking for work across the growing sectors of finance, banking,
engineering, supply chain and marketing.”

The report adds that almost half – 48% – of expat respondents consider employment conditions to be strong in Malaysia.

Of those surveyed, 71 percent say they intend to return at some point. 7 percent envision a return in less than 3 months, 5 percent in 3-6 months, 12 percent think they’ll go home in between 6 months and a year. The majority –  49%  – say they intend to return after more than a year.

29 percent say they do not intend to return. (See graphic titled “When Expats Plan to Return) on Pg 13 of the report.)

The report adds:

“Of the survey respondents planning to return to Malaysia for work, some 48% are aged
between 30 and 39, followed by those age  between 40 and 49 (38%). As mid-level
professionals, it is likely that they have met their career goals while working overseas.

More interesting bits and bobs: Among reasons for wanting to come home, family trumps at 59%, followed by career progression (13%), international opportunity (12%), salary (11%), culture (3%) and company’s reputation (2%).

I think the findings ring true. Every Malaysian abroad I know talks about family as the biggest reason they harbor hopes of a return, even if their brain tells them the economics make no sense.

And for those who pooh-pooh the findings because NO WAY are 71 % of Malaysians abroad going to stampede home, I’ll say this. You’re right. But the survey asks people about their intentions.

What I do know from my own experience and talking to friends is that many of us have this idea at the back of our minds that someday, we will return. When our parents get old. When our kids finish college. When Malaysia, a High-Income Nation becomes more than a slogan. When when when.

(I actually did move from the US back to KL last year, but I’m in the minority. Yes, that pic above is of the inside of our container before it got completely filled.)

Because intention, as we all know, is one thing. Action is another.

Here’s the report if you want to look at it. Bits on Malaysians abroad are from Pg 10 onwards.


Because of amendments to Malaysia’s Evidence Act 2012, Outstation recently changed its commenting system to a moderated one (scroll to bottom). Unfortunately, in doing so, we lost our previous comments. Here are a few we saved:

  • Philip Low

    Hi, Pardon my nearsightedness, but where’s the report or link to the report?

    Your headline says ‘More Malaysians…’ but doesn’t tell us compared to when? Last year? 5 years ago? Is it a growing trend? Or countertrend blip that could indicate a turning of the tide?

    Where are the 5,600 Malaysians surveyed currently located? In the US? Europe? Australia? Given the bleak jobs outlook in the US and Europe, it’s not surprising that more Malaysians are looking at places with a stronger job outlook.

    Did the report profile the respondents’ family positions? I.e. Whether they were married, had children, and where the members of their immediate family are loacted (i.e. with them, outside Malaysia, or not with them, in Malaysia?).

    As a Malaysian abroad, I would return only to discharge my filial duties to my parents, yet I would remain abroad for the sake of my children’s future. Either way, family drives my decision.

    Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · May 7 at 7:11am
    • Paul Kuhn

      Good on you Philip. Seeing the media for what they are.
      Reply · Like · May 7 at 7:16am
    • May Yee Chen · Foreign Desk at The Straits Times (Singapore)

      Hi Philip, all good points. If you point your cursor on the title of the report (second graph), you can click to a link of the report summary. (You just reminded me I need to fix the highlights on my links.) Am afraid it’s pretty skimpy and doesn’t answer your questions though. I’ll send your questions to them and let’s see if we get anything more.
      Reply · Like · May 9 at 9:50am
    • May Yee Chen · Foreign Desk at The Straits Times (Singapore)

      Paul Kuhn The media?! The media is indeed my day job but Outstation is a hobby. I’m a Malaysian returnee, back one year now. Interested in getting Malaysians around the world talking about things we care about. Outstation is brand new and I’m still figuring it out. Thanks for visiting. Tell your friends!
      Reply · 1 · Like · May 9 at 10:02am
  • Philip Low

    Thanks May Yee, I was reading your blog initially via Facebook on my mobile and links in body text doesn’t show up. Now that I’m on my PC, I can access the report. Thanks.
    • May Yee Chen · Foreign Desk at The Straits Times (Singapore)

      From Michael Page communications exec Domenica Vitale, in answer to Paul’s questions:

      Hi May,
      I certainly can answer these questions.

      I am not sure where the headline “More Malaysians” was derived from but our media release and report refer to the fact that Malaysian expatriates have confidence in the current Malaysian job market and they anticipate that will improve compared to last year, which is why the majority of respondents have decided to look for work in Malaysia.

      The expatriate Malaysians we surveyed were located across the globe and the respondents that identified their current work location were mostly from the Asia region. The top 5 countries where Malaysian expatriates are located (as cited in the report) are Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan.

      Unfortunately we did not ask respondents about their family situation.

      If you have any further questions or would like more information, I can arrange for you to speak to the Director of our Malaysian recruitment business.

      Many thanks,

      Reply · Like · May 10 at 4:59pm
    • May Yee Chen · Foreign Desk at The Straits Times (Singapore)

      Sorry, I mean Philip”s questions!
      Reply · Like · May 10 at 6:26pm


One comment on “Survey: Family Main Reason for Returning

  1. Pingback: If You Plan to Return…(A Recruiter’s Advice)

Leave a Reply