Moving abroad: help employees deal with their expectations

The process of moving abroad is a stressful one, and that includes corporately sponsored relocations. Employees go through a great deal of stress and separation, and employers can be uncertain how to help employees get settled in.

Sometimes people can have high expectations about their life abroad – dreaming of a place that will become their new home with new friends, welcoming culture and exciting experiences.

However, that sense of adventure can wear off quickly. Many ex-pats find themselves working long hours, feeling stressed, isolated and disconnected. That is why Human Resources (and a good relocation policy) workers need to help their employees understand the difficulties of moving abroad and overcome them.

Planning for moving abroad

Some keys to successfully moving abroad are planning, being flexible, and learning as much as you can about the culture and country you’re moving to.

Whether you are a concerned HR person or an employee ready to go on an assignment, there are a few things a relocation company can help you take into consideration:

1. Research your move

Your relocation management company can assist you with understanding the most difficult aspects of the move, timelines, milestones, and things to prepare for. A destination services company should have excellent online resources to help the assignee find a new community to learn about and get better acquainted with before they arrive. Depending on the country, the assignee may also be able to find great ex-pat groups.

2. Have a place to stay

After research, assignees and HR need to know that the right place to live has a huge impact on the assignment’s success. A transferee can find a great house, but in a community that doesn’t suit them.  If life is not good at home, this will infect work life. A good destination services company can help them not only find their home but their best possible community.

3. Build new networks

The assignee will make friends through work, which is a great way to get started. But integrating the whole family in the new city means building new networks. As mentioned above, ex-pat groups may be a good start. Being busy with activities in the new city and the new country will also get families to meet new people. Take up that sport that you haven’t played in 5 years.

4. Learn the language

Even if you don’t plan on speaking a new language, it’s important to learn at least the basics of your destination’s language. It will help make your transition easier and will help you fit in. Good language training is usually easy to find, but this is not something to be inexpensive with. Paying good money can often get a better learning experience, and the more that is learned, the better it is to live in the new country.

5. Prepare finances

International banking can be complicated, but it’s a necessity if you plan to move overseas. Assignees first need tax advice, and all good policies will offer this (especially with the complexities of tax equalization). But they should also devise a home banking plan and a host banking plan. The financial needs in each country will be different (will you keep your home and rent it out, are you getting a housing allowance or not), so creating a cohesive plan is important. A destination services company can put you in touch with a banker in the host country that is used to working with newcomers.

What companies can do to help

There are ways for employers to help ease the transition for both the employee and the receiving business. Relocating is stressful, but having a game plan and knowing all appropriate timelines and expenses can ease the stress. If companies do not relocate many people, they should seek assistance from a Relocation Management Company and a Destination Service company.

The success of that assignment is so much bigger than: did the household goods move to go well (although that is important too). But even if you do hire a Relocation Management Company, who is experienced with guiding employees through the relocation, HR should also get involved and know more. Ensuring that the receiving entity has strong onboarding practices is a great start, and of course, always keep the assignee engaged with the home office.

Planning is worth it, both for HR and the employee.  And this planning does not get rid of that sense of adventure, but it does sprinkle in some practical tactics – those practical tasks may be just the things to make sure that they keep thinking of the assignment as an adventure.

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