It is thought that there are more than 60 million expats living and working abroad. Worryingly for international human resource management teams, almost 40% of expat assignments are deemed a failure by their company. Sending an expat abroad is expensive; average costs can be as much as $300,000 per assignee. So expat failure can have a detrimental impact on business financials.
Expat life is not for everyone. There are certain characteristics that make some employees more likely to succeed as an expat. When choosing potential candidates for an expat role consider:
While these points are in no way exhaustive, they should certainly help when it comes to choosing the right person for an expat assignment
Provide the candidate, and their family, with comprehensive pre-departure training. As a minimum it should cover:
Pre-assignment training can make or break an expat’s experience in their new role so it is worth ensuring it takes place over a number of weeks or months before departure.
Last but by no means least is planning for returning expats. Do not run the risk of losing valuable employees and their knowledge of living and working abroad by not preparing for their return. Rates of turnover for returning expats can be as high as 25%. Challenges many returning expats face include:
Companies that have the highest rates of expat retention following an assignment, take their return seriously. They have a plan and role for returning expats that allows them to use their global insight and experience effectively.
Another way to help your employees succeed in expat roles is to ensure they have access to the healthcare they may need with international health insurance cover that includes an expat assistance programme offering emotional support during their time abroad.