Overseas assignments are a great way of ensuring continuity of quality, expanding your brand reach, promoting diversity and inclusion, streamlining processes and facilitating cohesion within an international organisation but if your employee is under-prepared for the cultural, language and work-based differences, they will struggle to feel comfortable within their new setting which can lead to reduced productivity and accomplishment.
There are numerous positive steps which can be taken (most of them before your employee has even put a foot on the plane) which we’ve outlined below, to make sure your employee achieves their objectives within the assignment.
Being fully prepared for the changes they are about to face, is the most essential factor in a successful overseas assignment.
At Creative Word Training, we understand the potential problems caused by overseas postings; the sense of isolation due to separation from family and friends, the difficulties in settling in because of different workplace values and cultures, the issues with adapting to alternative communication styles, and how these problems affect the success of a posting.
In response to this, we’ve created specialized cultural awareness courses designed to prepare expats for the changes they will face in their overseas assignments and to ensure they are familiar with the new society and culture, understand what is expected of them, and know how to make a good impression with key stakeholders, colleagues and clients.
The following information has been gleaned from our years of experience and should ease the transition for any employee taking on an overseas assignment.
Country specific training is a must.
Training should be handled by a professional, experienced training provider who has close links with the specific country and culture.
Training should include the following:
• Key facets of culture and society
• How culture shapes collective identity
• Key factors in business culture
• Communication styles
• Insights to good citizenship
• Local expectations for behaviour within business and personal circles
• Knowledge of the country
The better the quality of training, the more employees will benefit from the insights.
Offer cultural awareness training to the employee and their extended family who plan to travel with them as they too will feel the strain within a new culture.
For some overseas assignments, where the official language is the same or your native language is fairly dominant, this may not be essential, but speaking at least at modicum of the language often gives a greater sense of belonging and leads to easier acceptance by local people.
Consider offering training to the whole family (if required) as this can help with accelerating learning and gives everyone a head start.
If you have bi-lingual employees, consider pairing people to improve learning.
Basic language skills play a major role in adjusting to new settings and expats find it especially beneficial within a workplace.
Sending an employee overseas to live and work comes with a whole list of regulations, legal obligations and special procedures.
Immigration requirements can take time to finalize, so make sure visas, work permits and residency applications are completed well ahead of time.
Check both the native and host country guidelines to ensure everything is covered.
Since the covid pandemic, updates regarding vaccination and travel requirements change frequently, so it is worth monitoring this for changes prior to departure.
Employees relocating abroad will need to be able to manage their work and personal lives just as they would at home.
This means they’ll need access to their finances, schooling, health care, accommodation, and so on.
The following points should be discussed and supported in anticipation of the move:
• Bank accounts
• Identity cards
• Health care provision
• Logistics of moving
• Local area knowledge
Once your employee is on the ground, support should continue with regular check-ins and frequent communication from both the home and host office.
Ensure everything is going as planned for the expat, their family, and the host office.
It helps everyone if they know where they stand, so make sure there are well-defined expectations, potential areas of tension are monitored, and there are opportunities for feedback and discussion for all parties.
For more information about how the Creative Word Training team can help prepare your employees for an overseas assignment, please contact us.
If you would like to find out more about the types of cultural awareness training we offer, you can check out our dedicated course page here.