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In our global economy, many companies are sending employees overseas to work. Whether sending your employee for a short-term assignment or indefinite transfer, you want to do what you can to ensure the relocation is successful. If you are sending your first employee abroad, or you want to improve your success rate by relocating valuable employees, the following tips will help.

Select the Right Employees for Relocation

Before selecting an employee for an overseas assignment, you want to be as certain as possible you are sending the right person. Don't simply look at who would be the best person for the job. Consider who the employee is. For instance,

  • Can the employee easily adapt? Living abroad requires a significant adjustment. The difference in language, culture, environment, etc. sends many expatriates into culture shock. If faced with exclusion as a foreigner, can the employee overcome it or will the stresses of living abroad become overwhelming? The employee you select should one who is open to learning new ways of doing things. He or she should be resourceful enough to handle whatever obstacles may arise, and be willing to make adjustments in everything from the way they speak to the foods they eat.
  • Is this person married with children? Would he or she be willing to leave family behind? Would the family relocate with the employee? You don't want to find out after sending an employee overseas that he or she must return shortly afterward because the family cannot adjust.

When Sending Employees Overseas, Make the Offer Enticing

Once you've selected the best employees to send overseas, you must not only convince the employees to agree to go, but also to consider it a positive move. If you are sending an employee abroad who feels obligated to relocate, yet is not happy about the idea, the probability of success is much lower. Provide a tempting relocation package, one your employee would not want to turn down. Make it worth their while.

First, guarantee the employee can return to his or position upon completion of the assignment. The possibility of losing job security is a top concern for many expatriates.

Next, in addition to a typical international relocation package, consider offering incentives such as:

  • A significant pay increase and/or conditional lump-sum bonus / annual bonuses.
  • Language and cultural training. When possible, provide the training well in advance of the move.
  • Include the family in moving expenses. Assist with education arrangements for any children and, if needed, work vista and employment search for the spouse. Some companies will offer to pay tuition costs or day care for an employee's child.
  • Pre-move trip. Paying for your employee to visit the country, scout housing opportunities and see what the country and its people are like in advance helps make the actual move go smoother.
  • Cover the costs of visits. If the company is not relocating the employee's family, offer periodic airfare for visits, either for spouse/family or employee. Include paid time off.
  • Medical insurance and life insurance.
  • Tax assistance, including advice on tax rules and tax preparation, and/or tax reimbursements.
  • Company car or car with driver.

Decide what incentives your company is willing to offer and be prepared to negotiate. When selecting the right employees to send overseas and providing incentives that make the relocation worthwhile, you increase the chance for success.

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