Ease employee fears about relocation abroad by preparing them for the unexpected

It’s not uncommon for employees to hold initial reservations about relocation abroad or spending time working in offices overseas. According to a recent report from The Independent, certain regions of Europe, Asia and South America are expected to be sources of international and economic turbulence for the next few years. Even assignments in regions that aren’t regularly in the headlines may inspire uncertainty in employees about the prospect of relocation to a new place and balancing the transition with new work responsibilities.

Thankfully, there are several steps that employers can take to minimize this uncertainty. Equipping employees with the skills, knowledge and network resources necessary to simplify the task of traveling abroad can help make workers more open to the idea of relocating to a new country. Businesses foreseeing the need to reassign talented employees to emerging markets should incorporate this type of worker preparation into their long-term plans to avoid road bumps in the future.

“Overseas assignments require businesses to develop appropriate incentives.”

Incentivize employees to go outside their comfort zones
The key to making employees more amenable to the idea of relocation to another country is to eliminate as many unknowns as possible. Transparency is important, as clueing in workers about what they can expect in an overseas assignment also allows businesses to develop appropriate incentive structures.

For instance, employees moving to regions where they may encounter unique health risks are persuaded more easily if their new posts include¬†updates to the worker’s health plan. Highlighting a locale’s highly regarded school system may generate extra interest in employees with families. By predicting sources of employee resistance that may crop up in the midst of planning the transition and drawing attention to this potential hurdles early in the process, businesses will avoid having to scramble for a replacement after an employee rescinds their application to relocate abroad.

Allow workers to develop international connections
As social creatures, human beings thrive when surrounded by a supportive, nurturing community. That’s why it’s not surprising that one of the major insecurities preventing employees from relocation abroad is the fact that they will have to build up new friendships from scratch. Employers can address this anxiety by creating opportunities for employees in international offices to communicate with others and develop connections. Technology has made collaboration overseas as simple as syncing up schedules, and a simple effort to foster friendships between offices will make transitioning employees between them considerably easier.

Use education to minimize culture shock
The reality of culture shock can be debilitating, both to employees working overseas and to a company’s attempts to send workers abroad in the first place. The University of California, Irvine emphasized that travelers can ease culture shock by learning more about the people and places they plan to surround themselves with. An expanded understanding of a nation’s cultural tendencies, dietary options and history help travelers feel less out of place when they visit by informing their expectations. Businesses can supplement their relocation programs by making information about relevant countries readily available to employees.

Encouraging employees to move overseas is not always as simple as covering travel costs.Encouraging employees to relocate overseas is not always as simple as covering travel costs.

Turn team building into travel preparation
Seasoned travelers typically pick up a long list of practical skills that help them prepare for the unexpected. Putting these practical skills, ranging from picking up another language to brushing up on the metric system, can help improve the confidence of employees considering an overseas assignment. Better yet, businesses can make efficient use of company resources by merging this skill education into team-building experiences.

Scavenger hunts and geocache events, for instance, reinforce map reading and navigational skills which are essential advantages for employees adapting to a new place. Similarly, self-defense classes are popular and may help build the confidence that employees need to undertake a new adventure. Regardless of the methods they deploy, companies that take a proactive approach toward preparing employees for relocation will enjoy a more responsive base of potential applicants.