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Why work moves abroad fail

Rob Dolbear

Moving abroad for work is a big step for any employee – no matter how confident they feel about it. The idea of being surrounded by new sights, sounds, accents and cultures may seem exciting – but preparing for such a step is crucially important. From Rob Dolbear, Managing Director – HCR.

For an employer’s point of view, supporting workers throughout the entire process is as essential as persuading them to move in the first place. There are logistical processes to think about – and even the emotional stresses of saying goodbye to family and friends can affect concentration levels days, weeks or months later.

Once they have made the decision to move abroad for work – whether for a few months or for several years – most workers are gripped with a sense of excitement and trepidation. We’ve managed thousands of successful employee relocations during the past 20 years – and our methods are tried and tested. We know what works well – and we are very aware of the pitfalls and the consequences of not getting it just right.

Even after the logistics are taken care of, there are many things people can do to make settling into their new surroundings easier. A positive attitude is key – and making sure your employee researches their new country and its cultures is equally important. There are things you can do in some countries – for example kissing on the cheek when you meet an acquaintance – that might be considered offensive elsewhere.

Depending on the country, there may be areas of town that are safer to visit than others. Ensuring the personal safety of your employee is another essential part of the relocation process – even down to making sure they know where they should and shouldn’t go on a night out.

Ensuring they’re of the best places to go shopping or to the gym helps the settling in process. And there are often local community groups that make great welcoming committees, if you only know where to go or who to contact.

Our mission, always, is to ensure a smooth transition and that means making sure that people don’t feel isolated or alone. The relocation process continues long after employees have moved in – and so does our involvement. There are many other ways for employers to support their relocating employees – including helping them learn a new language, pass their driving test and learn the laws of their new land.

Employees relocating abroad face a number of obstacles before they can settle down and enjoy their new postings. Adapting to new surroundings, different colleagues and IT systems is challenging enough. Add a partner or family to the equation and it’s easy to understand why relationships are regarded as one of the top barriers to relocation. Many businesses turn to specialists like us for expert support to cover the practical arrangements involved with a move. But assistance in dealing with emotional strain is just as important.

Part of what we do at HCR is make sure employees are completely prepared, well in advance. For those moving their families to another location, this might include locating a new school. One of the biggest causes of relocations failing is the inability of partners to get a job – so another of our specialisms is helping spouses to find work. Making sure employees and their families feel emotionally secure makes all the difference for a successful move.

There’s nothing worse than leaving a loved one behind, so it’s no surprise that many employees choose to take theirs with them – especially when relocating on a longer term basis. And we are here to make sure everything is taken care of. It goes without saying that helping to find a home is a priority – but having processes in place to minimise the disruption to a relationship or family is crucial too.

Many of our dedicated move advisers have first-hand experience of relocating, which helps us to tailor our services to meet individual needs. They act as a single point of contact for advice and information to both our clients and their employees and are on hand to listen, advise and reassure people every step of the way.

Relocating to a new country is not like an extended holiday, it requires more than a guide book to make the most of it. Our specialists make sure everything runs smoothly – whether they’re assisting an individual, a couple or an entire family on their new work adventure abroad.

For many, the most difficult aspect of moving to an unfamiliar setting is the emotional upheaval. Most people are creatures of habit. And even those who insist they love the challenges that come hand in hand with a change of scenery, will experience some form of apprehension ahead of a move.

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