How to Relocate an Employee: Mistakes That Can Derail an Overseas Move

It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate giant like Apple, or a local business that sells actual apples; hiring international staff can have a variety of benefits. From diversifying work culture and building foreign partnerships, to skilled staff at a lower cost and acquiring specialist talent, there is always a reason to at least consider overseas employee relocation.

But, despite the benefits of international employee relocation, there is often concern amongst recruiters about the expenditure of resources required for such a move. While the initial costs will, of course, be higher than hiring domestically, the long-term gains can easily outweigh these upfront fees.

The trick to ensuring a successful and cost-effective international relocation project is in that phrase: long term. The longer you keep an employee around, the more you get out of them and the less that upfront cost impacts your business as a whole.

But this then begs the question of not only how to relocate an employee from overseas, but how to make sure they stick around long-term and ensure the initial expenditure accrued by hiring them is recovered.

Plenty of businesses are inexperienced in international relocation, which results in mistakes and employees leaving earlier than expected. Here are some common pitfalls of hiring overseas employees, along with how you can avoid them and create a long-term relationship with your new prospect.

How to Relocate an Employee Effectively

So, the first aspect of international relocation you need look at is getting the employee across the border. Relocation can take months, which means that plenty can go wrong in this timeframe if you aren’t careful, and all work and resources can be for nought.

What mistakes do businesses make that increase the chances of international relocation projects falling through?

Eying up The Wrong Candidates

Picking an international candidate is tricky. You want the very best for your investment — all at the lowest salary, if possible. However, successful international recruitment and relocation isn’t all about skills, career experience and pay-packet size; it’s also down to character. Being able to cope with a move abroad, adapt to the world around you and commit to a career change takes a certain kind of individual. Recruitment should be tailored to not only finding the right candidate for the job, but also the right candidate for the move.

Failing to Support Relocation

Your average worker knows very little about how to move abroad. This includes everything from obtaining visas to arranging shipping. If you hire an employee but don’t support their relocation efforts, they may make their own mistakes which result in failed relocation and termination of their employment contract. Supporting a move through the hiring of international moving companies, or assisting their relocation project yourself, greatly increases the chances of a successful move.

Incubating Stressful Situations

Stress is a huge factor in human decision making. We aren’t equipped to deal with it and we will avoid it whenever possible. If an international move becomes too stressful for an employee, they will be more likely to back out of the agreement. Stressors can include putting tight deadlines on a move, piling on too much information too early and the aforementioned lack of support. Creating a stress-free environment is key to ensuring your prospect stays on board through the process. Communication is important in this area. Be sure to check in, make your policy about stressful situations open and work with them to ensure they are in a stable mindset throughout the moving process.

How to Maintain an International Employee

The biggest focus in international moves is often on how to relocate an employee, yet things don’t just stop once their feet touch British soil. You’ve now got a person who has to build a life in a foreign country — and if that life doesn’t meet their expectations or result in a happy employee, you may find them shuffling off home far quicker than you’d like. The result is resource wastage you really want to avoid.

You can never be 100% sure how a new employee is going to adapt to a move overseas, but you can take steps to increase the likelihood of your plans for long-term employment being a success. Fail to do so and make these common mistakes, and you’ll be much more likely to see contracts terminated well before you intended:

Ignoring Family

An employee may just be an individual to your business, but they themselves are unlikely to consider themselves as just that. Many workers have families, dependants and even pets they won’t move away without — or would rather that they didn’t leave behind. Facilitating a move of family members to join a prospect post-move is a powerful method of keeping them in their job. If their family is present and with them, their drive to head back to their country of origin and return to said family simply won’t exist.

Failing to Help With Settling In

Getting settled into a new home is crucial to not only working successfully, but also adapting to the environment and comfortably living within it. If somebody cannot get settled in, or experiences culture shock, they’ll be far more likely to quit and head back overseas. A business can minimise the chance of this happening by investing resources in helping their prospect get settled in. This includes helping to break down language barriers, cultural education, sorting aspects of living like accommodation, schools and transport, as well as helping them get acquainted with the local area. The greater level of local integration you provide for your prospect, the more roots you help them lay and the less likely they will be to leave them behind.

Lack of Personal and Work Support

Early on, it is likely that your company is the only link your chosen international employee has to Britain. This means they have no domestic support structure when facing difficulties ranging from work dilemmas to personal problems. It is because of this that you should be prepared to offer an open door HR policy, offering support for any issues the recruit may face. Make it clear that no problem is too little to discuss. The more you know about problems your employee faces, the more you can do to help alleviate those problems and thus alleviate the threat that they’ll repatriate in order to escape them.

Avoiding these common mistakes when looking at how to relocate an employee internationally can really help provide stable ground on which to establish a long-term career.

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