There is a lot of literature (online) about what an assignee and by extension an assignees family need to focus on when relocating for work. This is all well and good; however, before they set off jetting around the globe it’s the employer that needs to know that they will accomplish the tasks set out for them. There is nothing worse than a failed assignment and worse still, a failed assignment that needs to be completed. This can put companies out of pocket and left demoralized at the prospect of assessments and costs of sending another assignee. For this reason alone it is important for managers and HR departments alike to not only understand the requirements of the task at hand, but to also know what goes into moving for an assignee and their family on a more personal level. It is a lot to ask of someone to move for work and some people are not up to the task. So what are the things that employers and HR professionals should take into consideration when sending an employee overseas or interstate for work?
First and foremost it is important that both HR and the employer understand some key facts that assignees face when moving for work. Inaccurate perceptions of what an expat lifestyle entails can cause unnecessary strain for the worker and (in worst case scenarios) can cause the assignment to fail entirely. Such things as an assignee having trouble adapting to the countries culture and business practices can cause a risk to productivity and can cause the failure of the assignment. This is why it is imperative for your HR department to have a clear and concise understanding of the expectations and realities that the assignment entails. This understanding is one of the best preventative measures that a company can take to ensure that their assignee and assignment are completed in a timely and successful manner.
If your company knows that they are planning to send an employee to another country/ state that to them is unfamiliar then the responsibility lies on the company to be completely aware of the location, as the new environment will impact the assignees ability to settle, adjust, live and work productively. Some important things to think about when choosing a location are:
- Housing: it’s important to understand the housing and rent market before choosing a location. There should definitely be a ‘live within your means’ mentality. Spending exorbitant amounts of money on lavish living spaces can be an unnecessary financial expenditure.
- Location & surrounding resources: You as a company or organisation should know the area just as well as your assignee or relocation firm do. Such things as Schools, medical facilities, transport and safety are all things that need to be taken into consideration. If you have opted to send a family over you need to ensure that there are the appropriate resources available for the members of that family. These factors might seem removed from the assignment itself, but in actuality are all interconnected.
Once a company has familiarised itself with the location for a potential assignee the process of choosing the correct employee to embark on this detail can begin. A lot of companies choose candidates based on work merit and relevant skills. This is of course a necessity as to send an unqualified employee would be disastrous and can end in the assignment failing. However, the best employee on paper may be one of the worst employees to send on assignment. For that reason it is important to understand the motivations of an employee to want to undertake such a project. If they are doing it due to the organisations preference rather than that of their own then they might not be the correct candidate. Successful assignments are usually carried out by those who enjoy the challenges that come with moving for work. Understanding is one of the core principals in successful assignments. Signs of trepidation can be a big indicator as to the assignee/ assignee’s families true attitude on the prospect of moving. It is imperative that any such concerns are addressed before the move is undertaken. Despite what people may say family life and work life are closely connected and where one aspect of life is strained so too are other facets.
This all seems like a lot to take into consideration, especially if your company/organisation hasn’t had an expat employee before. So how best can you address these issues? Relocation consultancies are one of the best services that you can employ to assist in managing and developing a relocation plan. Relocation and mobility companies such as Expat International specialise in providing organisations with the framework and tools they need in order to better support a company’s expat employees and build a stronger foundation for choosing assignee’s, understanding location requirements and assessing family needs.