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by Nathalia Teixeira and Suzana Marques
Face to the current dynamic and globalized international scenario, and the consequent expansion of companies to other markets, it is possible to see the growth of international assignments and the need for using international assignees or expatriates for managing companies’ global operations.
Thus, the process of transferring employees is a common practice in multinational organizations, seeking to expand to new markets, covering markets with a shortage of specialized labor, diffusing technical knowledge and improving business’ strategies in locations where these companies either operate or intend to operate.
In summary, to bring success and the expected results in international transfers, some of the recommended steps are:
1. Interaction between strategic areas of the company: this interaction has the purpose of aligning and updating the measure of Return on Investment (ROI) relating to transfer processes, including the priorities of the company and what results to expect – for both the company and for the employee.
2. Implementing Expatriation Policies: it is necessary to carefully prepare expatriation policies, being flexible to the trends and concepts and being strict on complying to them, also assuring attractive conditions for the employee to accept the challenge of the change.
The policies must include international assignment guidelines, including the type of assignment, duration, compensation and benefit program, support during the moving process - for example, cost of task preparation, cost of moving household goods, airline tickets, lodging, school costs, transportation cost while in the country, visits to the country of origin and safety -, regulatory aspects, assuring compliance with the applicable laws, and repatriation among others.
It is known that transferees often connect to each other by comparing their benefits so the Expatriation Policies must be very clear and comprehensive in order to avoid discomfort to the Human Resources teams.
3. Candidate Selection: determining the purpose and the goals of the international assignment will help to guide the candidate selection process. Moreover, in addition to the technical abilities, related to work, it must be likewise assessed the professional’s adaptation skills to the culture and the life style of the country of destination and his/her inter-cultural skills, once these are essential aspects for the success of the assignment.
It is very common to see professionals with excellent results in a country and poor results in another, due to cultural issues, which should be observed and predicted when selecting those candidates.
4. Preparation and moving: although many companies recognize the need for a detailed preparation for the transfer, this is, usually, associated to the employee, forgetting all other parties involved in the international assignment: team, leaders and family.
The team must be informed about the plans for the formal introduction of the new expatriate to reflect the local culture - it may require further research and planning, as well as information on the local work team. Multiple strategies should be considered in case the original plan for the previous or new team is not performed as planned.
The leaders must have access to the expatriate’s history in the organization and must be directly in touch with the candidate, in order to set their expectations as leaders, as well as the expectations of the transferees. Moreover, the possibilities for the candidate to have a mentor will directly affect his/her productivity increase, in guidance of his/her career and in the repatriation process.
For the family, it is recommended that all the parties (HR, assignee, family) attend an intercultural training and that they may prepare the processes related to moving from the home country to the host country.
An effective way of minimizing impacts, assuring safe procedures and making the relocation process pleasant - for both the employee and the company – it is counting on the consulting of partners specialized in foreigner’s accommodation activities, also named as Relocation/Destination Services companies.
Some of the benefits of hiring a specialized consulting service are:
• it mentally prepares the individual and his/her family for moving;
• it increases self-awareness and inter-cultural understanding;
• it provides the opportunity of addressing important questions and anxieties in a supporting environment;
• it reduces the stress level and provides strategies for facing an unknown situation;
• it facilitates the settling-in process;
• it reduces the rates of failure in assignments;
• it complies with the applicable legislation.
Among some of the differential offered by Relocation Consulting, we point out:
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Being able to count on all of these facilities, the transferred employee is certainly allowed to focus his/her energy to the project he/she was assigned to, and the company to have its investment reverted into profit, multiplied on large-scale.
5. Performance Review: the lack of success in an international transfer can be extremely expensive for the organization. Therefore, a consistent and detailed assessment of the performance of the expatriated employee, as well as an assessment of the operation in general, throughout the assignment, is essential. It is important to point out that details related to work, country, culture and other variables must be considered.
6. Repatriation: ideally, the repatriation process must be continuous and set at the beginning of the transfer process, addressing the following topics:
a) Career Planning;
b) Mentoring;
c) Active Communication;
d) Visits to the home country;
e) Preparation for returning home.
Aware on these stages, it is required from the global mobility professional to use the available tools and the best industry practices in global mobility, in order to offer solutions and alternatives seeking to maximize the experience of the expatriate, meeting the business needs and achieving the success results in managing international transfers.
A new guide has been recently published with the target to provide practical and relevant information on some of the countries with the highest labor immigration flow in Latin America and the Caribbean region. General local instructions such as care to be taken, application of visas and travel permits, immigration compliance, among other topics are presented with the purpose of being useful and help in global mobility processes. For reading this brand-new material, access the link: LATAM Guide
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