HRs to Note When Relocating Employees Overseas

October 24, 201611:08 am553 views
As more businesses take advantage of the growing opportunities in emerging markets, an increasing number of employees are finding themselves undertaking assignments in them. HRM examines what considerations need to be taken when sending staff to emerging markets.

Maneesh Sharma, CEO of Raffles International Relocation, says as exciting as a new change may be, it is also often accompanied by anxiety. This comes not only from the point of view of an employee moving abroad, but also with regard to the people involved in the relocation process, especially HR.

“The anxiety can very easily be transformed into the excitement of relocating with proper planning, due diligence and most importantly, by using a reliable relocation company,” Sharma says.

HR’s duty

In fact, Sharma says there are a plethora of issues for HR to take into account when relocating employees for overseas assignments.

One example, he says, is the visa and statuary requirements for each destination country.

“They vary from market to market,” he explains.

HR must also keep in mind the ease of doing business versus the cost of doing business, and it is crucial to manage and maintain the balance between the two.

Other aspects Sharma identifies include the safety and insurance of employees and their respective families, medical and schooling requirements, and infrastructure, labour laws and meritocracy-related considerations. In addition, HR should aim to have employees settled in quickly so they can become productive as soon as possible.

“Most of these can be managed effectively by partnering with a relocation company that has a presence via a strong network in the country where the employee is relocating to,” he elaborates.

“Keeping all the above in mind, there is little doubt that emerging markets provide a strong opportunity to relocate senior management or top talent. Companies can significantly benefit from relocating their employees to other countries to create new business resources and benefit from the direct investment being allocated to these markets and drive regional growth.”

Understanding emerging markets

According to the Talent Mobility 2020, The next generation of international assignments report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “the growing importance of emerging markets will create a significant shift in mobility patterns, as skilled employees from emerging markets increasingly operate across their home continents and beyond, creating greater diversity in the global talent pool.”

But what exactly are emerging markets?

“Emerging markets are primarily the set of countries that have some characteristics of developed markets such as the US, but do not fully meet the standards to be a developed market,” says Sharma.

“According to many reports, India and China are among the fastest-growing markets within this cluster. The other fast-growing markets are Brazil, Russia, South Korea, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey.”

See: Against the Odds: How to Achieve International Recruiting Success

From Sharma’s perspective, the majority of mobility issues pertaining to employees relocating to emerging markets revolve around three main issues: immigration, settling-in, and then moving to a business-as-usual environment.

“These vary dramatically from one emerging market to the other and are the end-result of the labour laws, political and economic stability, diversity, meritocracy, educational system and set up costs in each market,” he explains.

Relocation services

Sharma says Raffles Relocation offers a single window, and is a one-stop service provider for global mobility and relocation services, including in the emerging markets.

“Our services include: relocation (both sea freight and air freight), destination services, orientation services, settling-in services and immigration and visa assistance for the employees relocating to these countries,” he adds.

Challenges encountered in managing mobility programmes

  • Increasing compliance risks and regulatory requirements
  • A lack of transparency over programme costs
  • Programme is not currently aligned to overall talent strategy
  • Securing suitable talent
  • Inconsistent programmes across locations
  • Inconsistent policies
  • A lack of visibility over assignee population
  • A need for greater diversity within the assignee population


Are you tracking your international assignments?

In EY’s 2015 Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey, respondents were asked a range of questions regarding the tracking of international assignments.

  • 72% of the respondents were not tracking success or failure of their international assignments
  • 18% of the participants said they had robust technology in place to support assignment cost analysis and decision-making
  • 45% reported having very little or no technology to support decision-making for talent management


What is being tracked?

  • Assignee has met the business objective that they were assigned (73%)
  • Assignee stays for the anticipated length of the assignment (60%)
  • Assignee has met or exceeded KPIs or other performance measurements during the assignment (46%)
  • Assignee has met or exceeded a 360-degree assessment, especially with respect to their subordinates and team colleagues (11%)

Source: EY’s 2015 Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey


Mobility Trends

According to the KPMG Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey 2015:

  • The main objective of a global mobility programme for 73% of survey participants was to support business goals and adapt to changing business requirements
  • 81% of participants offer short-term assignments (typically outlined as less than 12 months)
  • 96% offer long-term assignments (typically one to five years)
  • 47% afford offer permanent transfer or indefinite length assignments.

Which statement best describes your organisation’s approach to assessing a potential assignee’s suitability for international assignment?

  • An external evaluator is used (7%)
  • Trained evaluators from within the organisation conduct assessments (5%)
  • Line management or HR conducts an informal assessment (56%)
  • Potential assignees complete self-assessments (8%)
  • We have no provision for assignee assessment (39%)
  • Other assessment tools are used (6%)

Which of the following best describes your organisation’s approach to establishing goals for international assignments?

  • The process is no different from our domestic employees’ goal-setting process (63%)
  • It is a different process than the one we use for domestic employees (6%)
  • Goals are established for every assignee (22%)
  • They are often set but not required for all assignments (7%)
  • They are rarely set (5%)
  • We do not have any process for establishing assignment goals (16%)
  • Other (2%)


The article first appeared on HRM Asia


Read also: International Talent Mobility: Understand the Challenges, Considerations and Strategies from Lee Quane

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