Expatriate management: 5 ways HR can help

August 02, 2018
In most industries, a global approach with feet on the ground is no longer just a sign of success, it is a necessity to compete effectively. Sending employees to work abroad for operational and strategic reasons is becoming normal practice. PwC estimate a 50% increase in global mobility by 2020. For HR departments, managing expatriates abroad throws up a whole host of issues with the expense of expatriate failure looming large. As a HR director or manager there are processes that you can put in place to help your expat employees settle in to their new life:

A comprehensive orientation programme for expatriates will greatly increase their chances of success. Unfortunately, it is unlikely a one size fits all approach will work on this occasion as pre-departure training will need to consider the unique:

  • Culture of their new home
  • Situation of each employee

However, it may be useful to have some general guides to:

On every destination, you send expats to. 

Many expats find having local support in their destination more beneficial than contact with HR or other colleagues in their base office. If you don’t have someone, consider outsourcing this role to a specialist who can help new expats settle. A local will understand ‘how things work’ and can assist with advice or practical help on a wide range of issues that can potentially confuse someone new to a country. Such as:

  • Accommodation
  • Utilities
  • Language
  • Schools
  • Personal tax

This can free up time and reduce stress for families who are making the journey over-seas.

Research shows psychological wellbeing while working as an expat is strongly linked to expatriate success. There are many things HR can do to help this process, including:

  • Arrange informal introductions to colleagues before the employees go on assignment
  • Encourage employees to use social media to build relationships with colleagues
  • Organise an employee-centric activity for them on arrival, for example if they move with their family, facilitate an opportunity for them to meet other expat families working in your organisation
  • Take a look at spouse expat information groups or check out our trailing spouse guide for other ideas
Even when an expat may appear to be settled in their new role and home, it is important to maintain contact. Regular check-ins are a good idea to discuss any issues that may be underlying that could be nipped in the bud early. A simple call could stop a more serious issue down the line.
Access to quality healthcare is vital not only for maintaining the health and well-being of your employees but also for their families. Do your research and ensure you choose an international health insurance group plan that offers the assistance and protection they need. Expat mental health is as important as physical health when working abroad. Moving, settling and starting a new role in to a foreign country can aggravate stress. Which is why depression and culture shock are relatively common amongst the expat community. Provide your expats the professional support they need with an expat assistance programme.
If you have questions about the best international healthcare plan for your business, please contact our corporate team . We would be happy to answer them.