Sending employees on an international assignment?

Amber Pittard, March 26, 2020

For employees, an international assignment can certainly be an exciting adventure in their life, but it can also be quite daunting moving to another country and leaving behind life as they know it. 

As an employer investing in your staff by creating opportunities for them to develop and thrive is extremely important. Research shows that an increasing number of professionals are moving companies due to limited assignment opportunities with their current employer.

Professionals looking for an adventure are joining global businesses that can offer them a position halfway across the world. 

A lot of time, resources, and money goes into the process of sending an employee on an international assignment, therefore as an employer it is important to consider how to improve the assignee experience to increase the chances of a successful assignment.

Here are just a few ways that you can assist your employee through the international assignment process;

Offer a pre-assignment trip

Once an assignment opportunity has been presented to the employee, it is a good idea to offer a pre-assignment trip. This trip can come before or after assignment acceptance, depending on the company specific policy.

The trip allows the assignee to get a feel for the local area, potentially find some accommodation and even schooling if required. In some cases these trips are used to determine whether the assignee will accept the assignment.

Minimise the risk of Culture Shock

Almost everyone sent on an international assignment will at some point face culture shock, even though they may not entirely expect it. Culture shock can come in many forms and can even be as seemingly insignificant as not knowing how to ask for your favourite drink.

Your HR, Global Mobility department or Relocation Management Company (RMC) will be able to manage assignee expectations and provide detailed information on the host country throughout the process to alleviate culture shock.

In addition, you could provide some cultural training to your employees with a local trainer before their departure, so they can familiarise themselves with the culture of the country.

Assist them with learning the local language 

In today’s world most of us can get by fairly easily if we are in another county. Thanks to the advancements in technology we can translate anything we want or simply “Ask Siri” at the click of a button. However for some assignees language training may be essential, there are a number of specific businesses that provide this service. In any case you still may want to offer your employees some language training so they can know the basics, this can also help with culture shock. 

Family trips to their home country 

It is usually customary to include at least 1 return trip home (home leave) for the assignee and their family to visit extended family and friends back in their home country. This is a standard benefit included in most global mobility policies.

These are just a few ways you can help your employees settle in whilst they are on an international assignment.

What has your company implemented for your international assignees to assist with the transition?

Written by Amber Pittard, Manager, Operations & Global Accounts - Global Mobility and Expatriate Services at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd.

Posted in categories: Culture & Languages, Expats, Global Mobilty
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