Persuading the reluctant international assignee
When asked to take an international assignment, some employees jump at the chance, but others do not. This can be for any number of reasons, such as family circumstances, reluctance to travel, or the location itself.
Sometimes it’s not an issue, and the company can find a more willing candidate, but sometimes it is, as the employee’s presence in a particular location is greatly needed. In such instances, the right incentives can do much to persuade a reluctant assignee.
The most obvious perk is money of course, which, in addition to a salary increase, can include things like hardship and/or danger pay for some types of locations, special staffing payments, generous allowances, and sign on and completion bonuses.
Other incentives include the assignment type itself, as an employee may be more willing to go somewhere if it’s not for long. In this instance, solutions include short term, rotator, and commuter assignments, or frequent business travel.
The latter, though, can often create compliance-related risks (e.g., with tax and immigration), so companies considering this option should have systems in place, such as travel tracking, to monitor days in country. With this service, employee travel and location data is collected and verified and data feeds, reports, and notifications are generated to various parties to ensure that there are no gaps in compliance. This not only helps avoid deportation – an all-too-likely threat in some situations – but the often substantial fines that result when noncompliance is discovered.
Support services can also help sweeten the pot, especially for the assignee with a spouse/partner and/or family. These can include destination services with orientation and home-finding trips, settling-in assistance, school search, ongoing assignment support, tenancy management, etc. Cultural and language training are usually essential as well, for all employees and any accompanying family members, before and sometimes during the assignment.
Another benefit that can make a difference (when applicable) is spouse partner assistance. Immigration or cultural issues often make it difficult for a trailing spouse/partner to find paid employment, but other options can be explored that will help him or her with career development (such as college courses) or finding volunteer work or other meaningful pursuits. This, many say, can have a big impact on an assignment’s success or lack of it. It not only helps to reduce the spouse or partner’s sense of isolation, especially in areas where there are significant cultural differences or language barriers, but also speeds acclimation.
Perhaps the most important benefits are those related to the assignee and family’s physical safety and well being. This means safe and suitable housing and transportation and access to adequate medical care.
Although host country housing may be different from what the employee is used to back home, it should be, at a minimum, the best available within a given housing allowance. Employers should also take whatever measures are needed, by working with local DSPs and/or security firms, to ensure it’s as safe as possible, especially in high risk locations. The same applies to transportation. In areas where travel may be dangerous due to poor infrastructures and roads, or security issues, companies should provide cars and drivers, or other safe alternatives.
Lastly, when it comes to overall health and safety, every effort should be made to provide what is needed, including evacuation. This should not only be in place for medical emergencies, but also security issues.