HR Trend #3 -- Bringing in Expats
- They will probably underestimate the difficulty of the expat's adjustment (especially if they have not lived abroad recently).
- The emotional issues are intense, and come in all flavours.
- The main success factor will surround the experience of the "trailing spouse" (usually a woman). 67% of failures can be traced to the trailing spouse.
- The non-working spouse will probably be a professional who has had to give up their own career.
- A simple set of policies created from the beginning will make things much easier.
- The move will cost up to US$1million for an executive and family.
- Of all age groups, teenage children have the most difficult time adjusting.
- The pre-transfer trip and negotiations will be critical to the success of the transfer, and must include the non-working spouse.
- Preparing the company for the arrival of the expat will be important (especially in terms of understanding, and expectations).
- There will be varying degrees of culture shock experienced as the family makes the transition.
- Few companies offer assistance to either spouse in making the cultural adjustment (and end up paying for it in the long term) .
- At times a professional mentor, a trained counsellor or a psychologist are needed.
- Expats who build their network of friends around other expats, rather than locals, will not be as successful.
- The couple needs a way to escalate their issues and concerns outside the regular company hierarchy.
- A transition from one Caribbean island to another is no easier than any other transition, IMHO.
- Some expats have mastered the art of adapting to local conditions, and of working in developing countries
The job of HR is to make sure that the company's investment is not wasted, and sometimes it may require them to say no to someone who they think will just not make it. Saying "No" is not easy to do, but it could be the very best thing for the working spouse and their family.