Masterclass: How to relocate an employee overseas

23 Aug 2018 By Kevin Melton

Companies often forget to include the worker's family in the process

We live in an era of globalisation, and there are lots of reasons for companies to move employees overseas – whether it’s to help them develop, or strengthen and expand the business and its markets. 

A lot of the time this can involve the relocation of key members of staff. There are a lot of things to consider for organisations taking on this challenge, including managing immigration, making sure accommodation meets expectations, and taxation requirements. HR has a responsibility to ensure all these areas are covered adequately and quickly in the run-up to an employee moving away. 

First, take all the relevant people into account – many companies focus on the employee being seconded, giving them all the right training. This is important, but some companies forget to include an employee’s spouse or children in this process. In many instances, a secondment will fail because the employee’s family is unhappy. 

Individuals can sometimes be reluctant to move, particularly if they have a strong family base established, so it’s also important to support them if they take that leap with the appropriate pay and benefits package. However, it’s also a good idea to manage expectations with accommodation and schools, so everyone has a realistic idea of whether it’s right for them. 

Transition periods are subjective, but make sure you leave a reasonable amount of time between giving an employee a new posting and expecting them to have moved. A programme of information for things like schools, removals and so on should be sent on a regular basis throughout a transition. 

Be as clear as possible on the duration of the secondment; most companies would not invest the time and administration in relocating an employee who would be abroad for anything less than a year. Circumstances can change, but it’s worth defining a minimum term. 

Take the time to listen to your employee’s requests – if you allow the business to make all the decisions, you’re likely to be left with an unhappy assignee. It can also be useful for HR to make sure the assignee understands the local culture they are moving to.

Finally, keep in mind that our research suggests more than half of businesses who send their staff on global assignments said it improved performance and operations, and 55 per cent of relocated employees said the experience had met their expectations and improved their work-life balance. It’s a positive process when handled correctly.

Kevin Melton is sales and marketing director at AXA Global Healthcare

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