10 Tips on how to Manage Expatriate Employees Working Abroad

Managing Expatriate Employees | Expatriate Employees Problems | Managing International Assignments

Sending your employees to another country involves many challenges that must be overcome for the assignment to succeed. So, if you are responsible for managing international assignments, you must support expatriate employees working abroad.

What Is an Expatriate Employee?

An expatriate employee is someone who has moved to live and work on an assignment in a foreign country. Expatriate workers are often highly skilled and may work independently or on the orders of their companies.

Many employers decide to send their workers abroad to tackle issues that only they know how, but this can bring various challenges.

So, it is essential to ensure expatriate staff employees get support to ensure that they are comfortable in a foreign country.

The Following Tips Show How to Manage and Support Expatriate Employees Working Abroad:

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It’s no secret that asking an employee to relocate is a colossal request, even if the move is for the short-term. While there are some considerable advantages to moving an employee to a foreign office, it has disadvantages as well that workers must know before they go. So, let us look at the tips in detail:

1. Don’t Just Focus on Work

Moving to another country is one of the most intimidating things that anyone can go through, despite also being hugely exciting.

If you have sent an employee abroad, it is understandable that your priority will be your business. However, employees will be far happier if their personal needs are taken care of too.

A great way to show your staff that you appreciate their efforts and want to make a move as easy as possible is to help them arrange things outside of work.

2. Prepare Them for A Difference in Culture

Culture and etiquette vary all over the world — that’s what makes this such a wonderful place to live. But heading to a new country can be nerve-wracking if you aren’t sure how to interact with the locals correctly.

It is even more essential for your expatriate staff to make a good impression on their foreign colleagues.

When sending employees abroad, it can be worthwhile to provide them with factsheets about the culture and all other things that they need to know.

3. Put Them in Touch With Someone Locally

To manage international assignments has a lot of challenges, especially where different time zones come into play.

You may not always be readily available for your expatriate employees to contact but having someone in their local area can be invaluable.

Not only will this give them someone to go to when they need advice or support at work, but it can also provide them with a starting point for a support network outside of the workplace.

4. Accompany Them if Possible

While spending all your time abroad may not be feasible; hence the need to send others in your place, accompanying your employee in the initial transition can make them feel as though they have your unwavering support.

Another way to do this is by taking a short trip with your employee before the move to allow them to experience the country and culture that they will be living in.

One of the best ways to understand what your expatriate workers are going through is to experience this yourself. Therefore, if you ever have the chance to spend some time working in another country, taking it can give you the advantage of empathy.

Professional relationships aside, being able to offer authentic personal support is an essential trait of any employer.

5. Choose Your Expatriate Employees Wisely

As the expatriate manager, choosing the right employee to send to another country is just as important as any other factor.

For most companies, the right person for the job will have the relevant skills and expertise but will also be someone who can adapt to change.

Consider also the personal life of the expatriate employee. There is little point in asking someone who has significant responsibilities at home to uproot to a far-off land. For example, those with young children may find it more challenging to relocate.

Furthermore, anyone that you send abroad should have a deep interest in foreign cultures and be willing to adapt to these as they travel around the world.

These people will make the best impression on your foreign colleagues and will give your business an excellent reputation.

6. Help with Socialising

If the person you are sending to work abroad has no connections in their new country, it can be intimidating. They may be surrounded by people during their working day but returning to their new home in the evening could potentially be very lonely.

Before they depart, work with them to find social activities, hobbies, and like-minded people in the vicinity. You might also introduce them to any of your acquaintances in the area to give them some moral support and company when they arrive.

Read Also: How to Display Behaviour that Shows Professionalism in the Workplace

7. Language Learning

If your employee is moving to a country where no one speaks their language, communication suddenly becomes an unexpected problem.

In most countries, you will find some common ground with language. For instance, English is usually one of the tongues spoken by business people around the globe.

But if you want your employee to fit in, learning the language of their new country is essential.

Not only will this help them during both their work and personal lives, but it will also demonstrate respect and a willingness to engage in their new culture to their colleagues.

8. Think About Healthcare 

Keeping your expatriate employees healthy while they are away is essential for several reasons. Of course, your primary concern should be that your staff are healthy and happy to well.

However, ensuring good health and access to healthcare will mean that your expatriates will be better able to perform at work.

The healthcare systems of countries around the world differ significantly, and it pays to invest a little time researching how the healthcare system works. Additionally, you should look at what, if any, cover your employees will need.

There are many international healthcare insurance plans for individuals and companies that can prove indispensable to businesses and their expatriate workers.

Also, it is advisable to monitor the mental health of your workers who are abroad since one of the most common problems within these groups is depression.

It is related to the enormous life changes that they have undergone, and often the culture shock can prove problematic. Access to the relevant services is crucial in maintaining happy expatriates.

9. Consider the Family

In some cases, your expatriate employees will move their family to the new location, and this is a massive upheaval, even for the most prepared family.

As the employer, you have a duty of care to your staff, and this should morally extend to their families. When moving an employee to a new country, it can be helpful to assist them in finding an appropriate school for their children and employment for a spouse.

Read More: What Are the SMART Criteria for Goal Setting?

10. Bringing Them Home

Potentially one of the most critical considerations in repatriating your employees once the work is over.  There is a lot involved in moving to work in another country.

The same can be said when returning home. Yet, a lot of people overlook how much hassle this can be without the correct preparation.

Many employees who return from an expatriate position abroad, leave their job shortly after returning home.

It is your responsibility to ensure that they are eased back into their role at work as well as offering support from a logistical and personal perspective.

Conclusion

Many companies send employees to work abroad. And this brings about many benefits to the business, as well as the individual. However, such a dramatic change means that employers have a duty to ensure a smooth transition.

There are several things you can do to help your employees settle into their new life abroad. As their manager, you must prepare them for the things they are not familiar with like, cultural differences.

Once their time in the country is up, you should also be prepared to help them transition back into their previous role. — This will prevent employees from leaving their job.

While it can be tricky managing expatriate employees, some ways can make the whole process much smoother.

Thanks for reading the article.  If you are managing expatriate employees working abroad, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below

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