Today, staff in their twenties and thirties are just as likely to work overseas as older more experienced employees. With a broader range of demographics, employers need to tailor the support they offer to meet a greater range of needs.
Lots of types of support are available, from education and care advice to assistance with daily living, and family support counselling. These services can all be provided by people with first-hand experience of what it’s like to be an expatriate in that country.
Employers need to think about the greater range of needs of this more diverse workforce during each stage of moving away, adapting to a new country and returning home, to ensure that everyone, regardless of age or life stage, are properly supported.
How the support needs of groups differ by age and life stage
It used to be that a move overseas for work would often include an employee’s partner and family. Now the picture is far more varied. We have a more globally mobile population, families are often left in the UK, and relationships are maintained with increased travel, although this isn’t always the case and there is still a need to support employees with families moving overseas together.
Pressures differ across the demographic groups. The strains felt by someone who is married, trying to maintain a long-distance relationship can be quite different from those felt by a single person, or by an employee who’s travelled with their family and has a spouse who has taken a career break to relocate and children trying to adjust to a new school.
Working for an employer who is prepared to support wellbeing is a high priority when looking to accept responsibility of overseas work, especially for younger employees.
How can employers provide better support?
The range of demographics amongst overseas employees adds a new level of complexity. There are a lot of solutions available for different needs and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Employers need to prepare ahead of time and get expert advice to find the best way to support the different demographics in their overseas teams.
Types of support
1.Pre-departure services can help organisations identify and prepare staff ahead of an overseas assignment and offer a good opportunity to understand the likely support employees will need before departure.
2. Destination services offer location, education and care support, which will be important for families moving overseas.
3. Cross cultural support that speeds up integration into a new environment may be particularly helpful for employees who are single and need to create a new social circle quickly to avoid feeling isolated in a new country.
4. There are also 24-hour helplines that offer quick access to confidential counselling services regardless of age or stage of life.
In order to avoid failed assignments it is critical that employers offer support for different demographic groups. Companies that try to shoehorn everyone into one category of needs are unlikely to adequately support their staff, which can have a serious impact on the success of expat assignments.
The most successful companies we see offer tailored support according to the needs of different groups, and they reap the benefits in terms of staff engagement and productivity.
Sarah Dennis, Head of International, The Health Insurance Group