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International Assignments – A Blessing Or A Curse?

Source | LinkedIn : By Matthew R. Chapman

Gaining international experience is becoming increasingly more desirable in this ever-changing world. But not all leaders think about “managing” mobility in the same way. Some of the key HR issues with international assignments are selecting an employee who has the necessary job knowledge as well the right degree of cultural sensibility, costs, and talent retention—during and post assignment.

There is a lot at stake, both commercially and personally, when staff are sent overseas. Here are some areas to think about, as either a leader of staff who may be placed on international assignments or whether you are the assignee yourself.

Hire the Right People

If mobility is something that your company expects employees to embrace, hire for it in the first place. In initial interviews ask questions like “are you comfortable with moving internationally in the future?” This is not to say when the time comes for an assignment the person will move, but it increases the odds.

Have a Plan-B

A person’s view on “mobility” and being mobile may change as time passes. Family issues, dual careers, and even career opportunity-cost (Am I better off staying than going?) can change. As a leader, and if you have an employee who you may want to be mobile, check in regularly on their appetite for mobility and don’t take it as a given that what you were told in the last chat will be the same this time round.

Encourage Local Terms

Too many companies, in my view, waste money on expatriate packages in situations where a local package would suffice. Granted, I do understand that certain situations warrant a full expat package, for example, sending a senior employee (and their family) to a higher cost of living location to fix a specific problem or to hire a local successor.

However, there is a cross section of employees who are hungry for multi-market experience and who are happy to do it without getting a salary or benefits hike. Focus on these people.

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