Airplane

For any business that operates internationally, there is a much bigger HR issue to consider than simply finding the right candidate.

Relocating to a new country is a life-change for an employee – and their family – so employers need to take extra steps to ensure a smooth transition. This involves looking into areas outside their role that will affect them in their role. Go the extra mile or risk disengagement and an early exit.

We’ve seen first-hand the assumptions that employers make when recruiting or relocating staff overseas, and the implications of this. At best, there’s productivity downtime. At worst, an employee leaves the role, creating a skills gap, more downtime, and a costly replacement.

The biggest assumptions often come when relocating staff that have previously worked overseas. In sectors such as oil and gas, engineering, or aviation, businesses often feel that travel comes with the territory, so the employee is used to sorting out the logistics for themselves. However, every country comes with its own cultural considerations, language and way of living. Therefore the biggest mistake is presuming that just because an employee settled into a role in one country, that they’ll be able to do the same in another.

It’s also worth considering the wider implications of overseas relocation. It’s not just the employee that will be affected, it will change the lives of their entire family. The availability of international schools, language barriers, and whether or not there is an expat community will play a part in their decision. An employer should be able to provide guidance on these matters, if not take care of them completely. Doing some homework on external ‘living’ factors ahead of the employee relocation will pay dividends in terms of employee engagement and retention in the long run.

Another often overlooked area when it comes to overseas recruitment is in the small details. Factors that commonly slip the net include availability of suitable accommodation in suitable areas, transportation to and from work, healthcare provision and personal security, which can be a big issue in many countries.
Employers can’t expect their staff to know (or arrange) any of the above. It needs careful handling by the business.

So, you may be wondering, what can you do to avoid such pitfalls and assumptions? Well, the answer is simpler than you may think. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes. Mentally step through everything they might go through during their first week in country. Write it up in a list – then turn this into a series of actions to arrange or check.

It would also be helpful to share this list with the employee, to boost their confidence in making the move – and act as a guide on what to expect.

If you’re relocating multiple employees to the same location, send someone on a local recce. The benefits of this will outweigh the cost. If this isn’t possible, you can find a company to act as your local rep.
So yes, overseas recruitment is more complicated than domestic placement, but small steps can make a big difference. Get it right, and you will have committed, motivated and engaged employee who can help support and build your business outside the UK.