Making international employee relocation easy
It is commonly cited that moving house or starting a new job are among the most stressful life events. Now imagine being relocated for work; you're doing both of these at the same time and in a foreign country where you are unfamiliar with the local culture, language and customs.
Most relocating employees are required to start working as soon as they arrive in the destination location but they are expected to find a rental property, open a bank account, and find local schools for the children, all whilst settling into a new and demanding role. Whilst the company and HR team naturally make an effort to support the relocating employee, they are often not based locally and could even be situated in a different time zone. This potentially results in a highly stressful employee relocation experience.
Employee relocation or global mobility can be a complex area with many opportunities for disappointment if not handled in the correct manner. Investing a little time and effort during the early stages will pay dividends and ensure your employees are relocated with the minimum of anxiety and without unexpected surprises for the company.
There are 5 key areas your company should consider before relocating employees overseas:
Culture and Language
1. Relocation Cost
Unexpected relocation costs can make the project more expensive than you first anticipated, both for the company and the employee. Make sure you have all bases covered and work out exactly what costs you are likely to incur when sending employees overseas. Choose to partner with a relocation management company that can provide cost estimates for your various scenarios. The most effective way of controlling relocation costs is by implementing a relocation policy, adhering to it and monitoring any exceptions.
2. Relocation Policy
A concrete employee relocation policy with all the relevant stakeholders pulling together so that any corporate moves can be dealt with efficiently, fairly and in-line with corporate strategy will make any relocation infinitely easier for all involved. Your relocation policy should reflect company culture, strategic goals and any financial constraints and should be adhered to as strictly as possible. How you manage this internally is key.
Don’t just consider the relocation services available to your employees; also recognise how the company will manage soft support such as salary and tax equalisation, cost of living adjustments, relocation allowances and home leave entitlement.
Once you have decided to relocate an employee abroad, your first concern should be the immigration application process. Until your company and your employee has immigration clearance, your project cannot proceed at maximum potential. You should be aware of the application and processing costs, and, perhaps more importantly, the time-lines, which do vary from country to country.
The sooner you start the immigration process, the sooner you can get your employee(s) on the ground in the destination location to fully advance the project.
4. Culture and Language
Many organisations underestimate the importance of cultural training and send their employees ill-equipped to deal with a foreign culture. For example, rushing your Indian colleagues into a business decision will not sit comfortably with them as they prefer to get to know you first.
Understanding that local culture is critical to your success in the new location. Offend the locals, even inadvertently, and this could ruin your chances of securing a business deal or gaining valuable contacts at a critical stage of set-up.
Consider who will administer your relocation policy and support your employee(s) on the ground. On paper, it may seem more efficient for you to manage relocation in-house and source your own providers in the destination location, but be wary of hidden costs, such as time spent by HR teams handling work they aren't used to, and the use of an unknown and untested provider. Ultimately, the company needs to ensure that the employee and the HR team are provided with the appropriate level of support in both the origin and the destination locations.