The pro and cons of sending employees abroad
The number of employees sent abroad to work is on the increase. This trend offers many benefits but also comes with a number of risks.
This article explores the pros and cons of sending an employee to a foreign country.
Current trends show that Western Europe and the United States are the largest regions that most frequently send and receive expats. In Europe, London and Geneva are often considered the best cities to post employees, while New York is the most popular place in the US. The Asia-Pacific region is also experiencing a significant increase in the number of foreign workers at present, most notably in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. Conversely, Africa, has recently seen a visible decrease in numbers of expatriates most likely due to current political tensions and war conflicts in many of its countries.
The posting of employees abroad can bring a great deal of opportunity for both the employer and employee. In order for both parties to benefit from this experience, companies and expats should consider the following aspects carefully, when choosing a destination:
- Current market trends and opportunities
- Added value of the country and its expertise in given areas
- Transferable local experience and knowledge
- Expats’ expertise and expectations, e.g. Africa & Middle-East are ideal locations for oil/ gas engineers
- Profile and situation of a given employee (gender, family, etc.) that determine the living conditions required.
Pros and cons of employing expats
Personality is a key aspect. Where some employees see benefits, others may be afraid of the many obstacles that international relocation can bring. A break down in communication between employee and parent company as well as a lack of employer support for education and cultural awareness can result in employees not reaping the benefits of working abroad. Both personal and work related satisfaction.
A company that plans on sending employees overseas should strive to present the international placement as a favourable opportunity, emphasising tits benefits. Below are some areas that organisations could highlight in order to avoid mistrust or misunderstandings with potential expats:
- Potential for Increased pay or compensation
- Attractive benefits for the entire family
- The development of new skills for career progression
- New personal experiences including foreign travel
- Learning new cultures, ways of life and pastimes
- Ability for children to learn new languages and cultures
- The added value brought by the employee
The key is to help employees realise that the moment has come to travel abroad, and that this is beneficial to them and not only to their employer.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Moving abroad brings many new cultural challenges. Even moving to a similar western country will see an expat need to acclimatise to new cultural norms, behaviours and attitudes. Integrating into this new environment, or not, will make or break the opportunity.
Expats must prepare themselves by gaining an in depth understanding of the prospective country, thus helping to avoid a culture shock, as well as allowing them to build meaningful relationships. Personal and professional life will likely be quite different from their home country,, and therefore, adapting to the new surroundings is paramount to gain the full potential of the stay.
Prepare the whole family
Whilst an employee requires time and support in preparing for a move abroad, it is of equal importance that their family members have access to the same assistance. After all, it could be any of a number of reasons an expat posting doesn’t work out, particularly that of a family member feeling isolated or unhappy in their new foreign home.
International job assignments offer a unique opportunity for both employees and their families, well as their employers. Therefore, training and preparation on cultural awareness should not be overlooked.
Author: Míša Benešovská
I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter, mainly covering IT industry. I’ve been fascinated by it for nearly a quarter of a century (or since I dismantled my first computer). I worked for Seznam.cz, Unicorn Systems or Mafra publisher. In my spare time, I love game consoles and keep perfecting a recipe for the best pumpkin risotto in the world.
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