Meeting the Challenges of International Employee Relocation
The workplace has gone global, with job responsibilities, projects, and teams often spanning continents and cultures. More and more companies are relocating their employees internationally, whether permanently or to take on temporary assignments, and corporate human resources departments now play an integral part in guiding employees through the challenges of moving to a new job – and a new country.
Planning and logistics are key to creating a smooth overseas relocation process for your company and employees. The complexities of arranging the myriad administrative details, along with physically moving people and property abroad, make it essential to have a plan in place that provides ample lead time and resources for completing these tasks.
Key Considerations when Moving Overseas Staff to the U.S.
Employees transferring from overseas to the United States are likely to expect the company to have a relocation package in place. Some businesses offer limited benefits to employees that relocate internationally, while others provide comprehensive support that may include housing, a car lease, and private education for children.
HR managers responsible for creating and implementing international relocation policies and processes need to address more than basics such as airfare and transporting belongings. These are some of the crucial issues that must be taken into consideration when moving overseas staff to the U.S.:
- Type of Assignment: Determine whether this is a permanent or one-way relocation or a two-way relocation where the employee departs after completing the project or assignment.
- Documentation and Paperwork: Allocate time to address any immigration or work permit requirements. Assist the employee and family members in securing and/or updating passports, visa requirements, and other relevant documents for entering the U.S. and returning to their home country.
- Insurance and Medical Factors: Employees may need help sorting out health insurance coverage, mandatory vaccinations, prescription medications, and care for chronic medical conditions. They will also need to know about hospitals and emergency care in their new city or town.
- Financial and Tax Implications: Review and address implications related to tax laws, currency impacts, and compensation. Provide guidance on the country’s banking and financial systems, and offer assistance in setting up appropriate bank accounts and applying for credit cards.
- Housing:Depending on the length of the employee’s stay, they may need assistance in determining an appropriate neighborhood, reviewing homes and apartments, and signing a lease or mortgage. They also may need help terminating their lease or selling or renting their current home.
- Education:Offer insight into the overall education structure and associated expenses for the employee’s children. Assist with schooling choices, including public, private, and international institutions, and/or enrollment.
- Language Skills:Find out in advance if the employee and/or family members need to learn another language for a successful transition, and arrange for a translator if needed.
- Transportation:If the employee and family members will be driving, they will need to understand the rules and laws in the U.S. If not, offer information about local public transportation services or accessing a ride-hail app.
Partnering with Relocation Specialists for a Smooth Move
Many businesses opt to work with an international relocation services firm to assist employees with the transition. These companies often take care of much of the research and planning that goes into moving, especially when it comes to finding housing, buying or renting a car, and transporting belongings.
Suburban Settlers often works in tandem with relocation companies to help employees and their families settle into their new neighborhoods and feel at home sooner. We provide highly personalized, white glove services that range from arranging utilities and phone service installations to helping staff find the right schools, childcare options, and healthcare providers.
Our customized plans familiarize employees with the best retail, restaurant, and recreation options in their new community and our one-on-one tours give them the benefit of our first-hand knowledge and experience – whether it’s intel on the go-to dry cleaner or navigating roads and public transit systems.
Helping Employees Adjust to Cultural Change
Moving an employee to the U.S. is not just about helping them settle into a new job. They are moving their entire life and adjusting to a new culture. Single workers on short-term assignments may not need a great deal of help. However, employees who are relocating permanently and those accompanied by family members typically benefit from ongoing support throughout the transition process.
In addition to the typical stresses and disruption associated with relocating, the cultural change can take a tremendous emotional toll on the employee, their spouse, and children. This can impact the employee’s job performance and the company’s long-term success, making it a critical issue for companies and HR managers to address.
Specialized services like Suburban Settlers can connect employees and their families with newcomer groups and even make personal introductions to like-minded people to help ease the transition into their new neighborhood. We also can provide referrals and contacts for local community organizations and mental health support options for children, adults, and seniors.
Companies continue to craft comprehensive policies that help alleviate not just the logistical and financial burdens but the emotional and cultural challenges of international relocation. Keeping the communication channels open between HR and the employee; encouraging them to talk about their concerns and needs; and offering personal as well as professional support will go a long way toward improving the likelihood of a successful adjustment – both in and out of the workplace.
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