Tips for Expatriate Management
Source: Shutterstock

True global mobility has allowed businesses to gain substantial growth in existing and new international markets by moving talent and their expertise and knowledge to foreign assignments.

Large organizations have seen success with the global mobility of employees and most understand that if not done right it can lead to failure. The key is to recognize that an international move is a multistage process and needs a great deal of preparation before the move, support and communication during the assignment as well as when the assignee returns to their home country.

So, what stages are best followed to ensure successful and cost-effective expatriate management?

Make sure you pick the right person

Each assignment will present its own unique challenges and demands. Therefore, it is paramount that the differences, especially regarding cultural, political and economic factors, are defined before the candidate selection commences. Therefore, the better matching of candidates with the demands of an international assignment can be achieved.

It is not enough to assume that because someone is successful in one part of the globe he or she will be in another.

It is essential to have a more focused approach to assignee selection that screens for the competencies that are essential to success such as an ability to adapt to cultural and social differences, being able to hit the ground running and the ability to build local networks.

Prepare them before you go

By providing full support before they leave, you will ensure that their personal needs are met and that they have everything in place necessary to make the move as easy as possible.

As a large majority move with a partner or family, and it can often be their inability to settle in the new environment that can cause the assignment to fail. Hence, it is crucial to ensure that their needs are met too, and concerns are dealt with through training, practical support and counseling.

Maintain communication and support throughout the assignment

After the initial honeymoon period, it can be common for employees and their families to feel isolated because of the cultural and language barriers and the separation from friends and family.

As well as, ongoing support assignees will want to maintain their personal and career development during their time away and will want to focus on their next role which will utilize their international experience.

Measure success

In a survey conducted by EY, a significant 72% of respondents confirmed that they are not tracking the success of their international assignments, therefore making it difficult for an organization to determine how effective its expatriate programme is and to quantify its value.

Repatriate them in the right way

Many expats will have difficulty adjusting to the home country environment and this can lead to higher than desired levels of attrition.

If there is a failure by their employer to focus on career development and how to leverage the acquired skills on repatriation, it can make the expat unsettled and they can be easy targets for other businesses who desire their experience.

Businesses need to prepare the individual for their next role and give them a clear indication of their future prospects and career advancement opportunities and they will hopefully be paid back with long-term loyalty.

Successful and cost-effective expatriate management should be the cornerstone of a successful global development and talent acquisition strategy. Therefore, it is paramount that businesses build and manage a robust, productive, cost-effective and measured expatriate management programme.