5 steps to a smooth international relocation

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

It’s often said that moving house and starting a new job are among the most stressful of all life events (right up there with public speaking!). So imagine being relocated for work – you're moving and starting a new job at the same time and you’re in a foreign country, where you’re probably unfamiliar with the local culture, language and customs.

Most relocating employees have to hit the ground running in their new country, as well as find somewhere to live, open a bank account, and find local schools for their children, all while getting used to the challenges of their new role.  While companies’ HR teams usually provide a bit of support to these employees, they’re often not locally based and not even in the same time zone – making moving more stressful than it needs to be.

Employee relocation (or global mobility, as it’s also known) can be so complex – it’s got to be handled carefully. Putting in a bit of thoughtful time, effort and planning in the early stages will ensure a worry-free move for your employees and surprise-free transition for your company.     

The big 5

 There are 5 key areas to think about before relocating employees:

  1. Relocation costs
  2. Relocation policy
  3. Immigration
  4. Culture and language
  5. Quality

1. Relocation costs

Unexpected relocation costs can make moving more expensive for everyone involved, so it’s worth taking the time to carefully work out all your costs in advance. Get a few cost estimates, covering different scenarios, from a reliable relocation company.

2. Relocation policy

One of the best ways of keeping an eye on your relocation costs is by creating and implementing a relocation policy, and sticking to it. The policy should reflect your company culture, your strategic goals, and of course any financial constraints. How you manage this internally is key.

Don’t just consider the relocation services available to your employees; also think about how your company will manage soft support, such as employees’ salary and tax issues, cost of living adjustments, relocation allowances and home leave entitlement.

3. Immigration

Once you’ve decided to relocate an employee, an important next step is the immigration process. Until you and your employee have immigration clearance, nothing can move forward. Be aware of the application and processing costs, and especially application timelines, which vary from country to country.

The sooner you start the immigration process, the sooner you can get your employee set up in their new location, ready to take on their new role.

4. Culture and language

Don't make the mistake of ignoring cultural training for your employees – understanding the local culture is critical to your success in a new place. For example, your Indian colleagues won’t like being rushed into business decisions, as they prefer to get to know you first. Accidentally offending the locals can ruin your chances of securing a deal or gaining valuable contacts at a critical stage of set-up.

5. Quality

Think about who’ll oversee your company relocation policy and support your employees on the ground. It might seem more efficient to manage relocation in-house and find your own providers in the new location, but be wary of hidden costs, such as time spent by your HR teams handling work they aren't used to, and the use of an untested provider. Your company needs to make sure that the employee and your HR team are fully supported in both the origin and the destination locations.

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