The world is becoming increasingly more connected and international trading continues to grow, making international offices and representatives more important to business success than ever before. It’s important to carefully evaluate the employees you want to shuffle, and consider their individual needs and what your company needs to make this move successful. Here’s a set of big-picture questions to ask yourself as an employer when internationally moving an employee:
1. How much time will your employee need to move?
Think about the logistical side of this move – everything is going to take time. From discussing contract/taxes/pay changes with the company lawyer, to time needed to apply for visas, moving an employee takes months of planning, and there are many factors to discuss. Don’t forget to book storage space and a moving team as far in advance as possible!
Once the move is underway, how much time will the employee need to settle in? What is the most realistic timeline for expecting project completion and workplace responsibility from the employee once they reach their destination?
2. How will they react to their destination?
When choosing employees to relocate, carefully consider personal traits as well as their responsibility within your business. Discuss how they will face the challenge of moving to a different country and how they will work to achieve balance after the move. The person who seems like the best choice might not actually be the best choice!
Prepare your employee as much as you possibly can to insure a successful transfer. Make sure to discuss the changes they will see in terms of insurance, health care, and company benefits. Avoid culture shock, relocation regrets, and help keep your employees family from feeling isolated and experiencing “trailing spouse” syndrome by making resources available. (Or even a pre-move trip!) The actual move will seem like a breeze compared to adapting to different laws, cultures, and languages. Your HR department needs to have resources and steps in place to be the ultimate supportive guide when relocating employees abroad.
3. What is the long-term goal of relocation?
It is extremely important that you consider how local customs and laws in the host country will affect the employee’s work, and you need to factor this into the long-term goal of the move. Is it worth the investment of time, money, and resources? What else will the employee need to be successful, and how does this affect work responsibility and project completion? What happens if the employment is terminated or the employee needs to return home? It’s crucial to have an attainable goal and a plan in place to deal with influencing factors as they arise.
4. How will moving affect their cost of living?
If the employee is transferred to a new country, what will happen to their national insurance and tax contributions? Make a lawyer available to advise them on financial/benefits/insurance changes.When relocating employees abroad, it must be made extremely clear who is paying what, and when.
You need to discuss changes in salary and payment that will happen when your employee is working in a different country, and the revised employment contract needs to solidify exchange rate evaluation and payment terms. You should also assist your employee with setting up foreign bank accounts, arranging money transfers, and inform them on local financial trends and habits.
It’s important to take time to discuss personal factors that influence the financial and emotional consequence of this transition. How will the employee and their family be getting around, will the spouse need job assistance, and will they be paying school tuition for their child? Starting with the average numbers of the area, you need to discuss with your employee what their needs are and what you expect when it comes to cost of living.
5. Is your company ready to become international?
How will this affect your business’s taxes? Is the relocated employee set to work under a separate sister company? Speak with a lawyer as early as you can to help make the employee relocation process as smooth as it can be for your company.
Clear communication is essential. Make sure your employee knows their responsibilities, the new chain of command, and how you expect their first project to be completed in their new office. Is your company thoroughly prepared to assist an employee move, live, work, and most importantly- succeed, in a different country?
Don’t forget to make it clear in their contract what will happen, and what is expected of the employee and the company, if the employee’s contract is terminated during the assignment. Discuss similar procedures for if they are injured abroad, or if they wish to return home after a short period of time.
Relocating an employee is a big decision! Take time to consider all the aspects of an international move, and have a plan in place to insure the move is successful.
The team at Sorensen