How can HR support expat families? 

 October 31, 2019
As an international human resource manager, there is a lot you and your department can do to support the families of expat candidates and provide them with the best possible chance of enjoying their new life abroad:
The needs of one family may be very different to those of another. If possible, take the time to find out about their family’s needs. This information should be used to tailor pre-departure training and destination supports.

Although you may provide pre-departure training to the successful candidate. The most successful expatriate programmes extend this to families as well. Typical courses for trailing spouses and children include topics like:

• Tips from other expat families within your organisation

• Choosing schools for children

• Practical information on living in their new environment

• Career opportunities

• Managing culture shock 

• Social opportunities and how to make new friends

Try to include lots of opportunity for families to ask questions or share concerns throughout the process. 

One of the most difficult things about moving to a new country is not understanding how logistics you take for granted in your own country work. For example:

• What utilities do you have to pay for?

• Who are the best providers?

• How are bills paid? 

• How do we find a family doctor as expats?

Although you may be able to provide them with some basic information before they leave, it is most beneficial if an expat can be connected with someone in their new home. They will be in the best position to answer any queries they have.

If there are children involved in the move, their ongoing education is a significant concern for most expat families. If your business has relationships with suitable schools in the area, put them in touch. If not, provide all the information you can on choosing an international school in their destination country.

Finally, even with the best preparation and training, moving from one country or continent to another is going to represent a significant upheaval in the lives of an expat family. If your international health insurance provider offers an expat assistance programme, see if it extends to spouses and dependants too. 

Although moving abroad can be a new and exciting prospect for a family, it may have challenges. As an international HR manager, help your employees and their families make the most of their time abroad and help reduce expat failure costs to your business.