Increasingly, workers are on the move: in a recent Deloitte survey, nearly 70 percent of business leaders agreed that global mobility was an enabler of business and talent strategies.

Unfortunately, though, only three percent rated their companies as ‘world class‘ when it comes to actually carrying out these global deployments.

So how can you best help your staff as they move abroad?

PICK THE RIGHT PERSON

It’s easy to focus on the strictly work-related skills when choosing who to send, but this isn’t always a good idea. Qualities such as adaptability, self-reliance and flexibility are likely to be far more important for a foreign assignment than for a job at home. At the same time, though, the staff member will need to be respectful of authority, and prepared to follow rules and customs that may be very different from those at home.

 

PROVIDE SUPPORT WITH THE MOVE

Being sent abroad for work can be highly disruptive, but employers can help by thoroughly briefing the employee on the place they’ll be living and working. They may also need help with visas, residence permits, bank accounts.

 

It’s also important to support partners, who may be suffering from ‘trailing spouse’ syndrome. Some employers offer language classes, introductions and even employment opportunities to partners; some offer help with schools.

 

COMMUNICATION

It’s all too easy to pack employees off abroad with an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude, running the risk that they start to feel rather disconnected.

It’s a good idea to set up regular feedback and mentoring sessions with managers back home – ideally, with managers who have worked abroad themselves. Employers could also, if possible, make sure there’s a point of contact for more personal problems and advice.

And there should also be a similar HR contact in the destination country who can advise on local issues – especially if that destination country is in a different time zone, making communication with the home office tricky.

Where budget’s not too much of a problem, and if the assignment’s long enough to merit it, companies should consider paying for a certain number of flights home.

 

SUPPORT WITH TAX

Global mobility can create real headaches in terms of payroll, especially when secondments are short-term. There can be tax liabilities for the worker both at home and abroad, as well as for the company; there may also be complex social security issues to navigate.

Most international employers manage this for their staff by using a shadow payroll: a system used to help with reporting and paying an employee’s taxes in their host country, while they remain on their home country’s payroll system. The challenge here is in working out what needs to be calculated, reported and remitted. It’s vital to set up the system properly at the start, and to keep updated about changes in legislation in the host country.

Paying staff the correct amount – on time – is just as important as at home, if not more so. Bear in mind local regulations such as working hours directives and sick pay. Public holidays and holiday entitlement may also be different from those at home, and you’ll also need to consider what to allow as expenses.

 

SUPPORT WHEN RETURNING

Coming back home can be almost as difficult as moving abroad in the first place. Staff can struggle to reintegrate in their former workplace, and families face being uprooted once again.

The employee will have a great deal of admin – from finding a new place to live to sorting out school places – and it’s important to recognise that and cut them some slack.

Many organisations open discussions with the employee a few months before their return, and some even keep the mentoring process going for a few months after the employee’s return – helping make the most of the employee’s new skills and experience.

If you are in the process of scaling internationally but need more country specific information or would like to gain access to our network of payroll providers then contact us today!

Author: Emma Woollacott Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist specialising in business and technology. She writes regularly for the BBC, Forbes, Raconteur and other publications
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