Preparing Employees For International Assignments

How Companies can Promote and Prepare Employees for International Assignments? What Can be Done to Promote the Success of International Assignments?
A study released by Employment Conditions Abroad (ECA) found that the amount of failed international work assignments has increased dramatically. The American group’s report concluded that 7.2 percent of international workplace assignments were terminated early in 2016, this is a sharp increase from 2012 when the average failure rate was 4.9 percent.
Companies who send employees abroad for work can benefit from leveraging the benefits of today’s global economy. The advantages are substantial, but costs can be extreme. It’s estimated that an employee on an international assignment is three times more expensive than a local employee. Failed assignments will quickly hurt the bottom line of any firm.
What’s causing so many international relocation opportunities to fail? There are various factors that can cause an employee relocation assignment to end early, and many are doomed from the beginning due to poor communication and planning. The study concluded that many failed assignments have some serious gaps when it comes to the expectations and realities of the job. Another large segment of failed assignments are caused by the employee and their family not being able to settle in their new city because they feel isolated and are not able to adapt to the new culture.  It’s common for expats to feel intimidated by a new language, living in inadequate accommodations, children not being able to cope in their new school and various other reasons. It’s impossible to account for every possible negative experience, but employee relocations tend to be more successful with a solid strategy and communication.
Before anything else, you’ll want to find the right person for your international work assignment. Let’s face it, living abroad and the challenges presented are not for everyone.  It’s also vital to really analyze the full scope of the position and determine whether or not it can be done locally.  An ideal candidate for an overseas work assignment will have an open mind with a willingness to learn and embrace a new culture, they will have the right professional competencies for the position and be excited to learn and grow as the position develops.
A typical international assignment contract will include various key elements, this will set a clear understanding of the expectations by each party. Topics addressed in a contract will most likely include:

  • Location of the assignment
  • The total length of the assignment and deadlines for renewals and probation
  • A breakdown of all relocation costs paid by the company
  • Salary, incentives, allowances and benefits paid to the employee
  • A detailed job description that breaks down the various tasks assigned to the employee
  • Employee tax information
  • Safety and security details
  • An understanding of what happens in the event of a failed relocation
  • Repatriation

The real work begins once the ideal candidate has been identified and the paperwork is signed. The company must move quickly and begin the visa application process. Requirements and processing times will vary depending on the country.
Over the years we’ve found that despite a willingness to invest money, many companies simply do not have the know-how for designing a well-crafted relocation plan, resulting in an overall disappointing experience. Our team of experienced employee relocation consultants will partner with the company and employee to design a relocation package that’s cost-efficient, considers all the moving pieces and provides a high level of communication and collaboration with the assignee and their family.
It’s common for overseas employees to feel disconnected from their co-workers back home. Email and instant messaging are great communication tools, but they can lack when compared to the face-to-face interactions of the office. It’s critical that management try to have consistent communication with overseas workers, this will remind them of their value and will aid in their overall happiness.
Most employee relocation plans will have reintegration incorporated into them. Communication about the reintegration process should begin at least six months before the assignee’s return. During this time the company should leverage the employee’s recent experiences and gain a better understanding of the skills and qualifications needed to excel in an overseas position. Both parties will need to outline what the employee’s job will look like when arriving back home. There’s a lot of insight that can be gained by taking the time to disseminate and catalogue the employee’s experience abroad. This is an opportunity to discuss extending the employee’s assignment if it makes sense for everyone involved.
Global work assignments are an exciting option for many companies. It’s important to find the right candidates and prepare them with the information needed to make the relocation successful. Partnering with an employee relocation professional is an excellent way to make international assignments successful and affordable. For more information on how Welcomehome Relocations can assist your company with international work assignee planning, please contact us.

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