Author Archives: Angie Weinberger
Hiring Talent from the Globe

I’m on a MISSION to bring the HUMAN TOUCH back into Global Mobility. One theme that I see more now is that we Global Mobility Professionals are involved in Global Talent Acquisition. This makes a lot of sense when you consider that we have the knowledge and skills to deal with most of the challenges that hiring people from other countries brings. However, since in most organizations we are not officially responsible we don’t get the resources we need to deal with recruiting professionally. Hence, we can consult but not support. So, dear recruiters, I hope this is helpful.

Lifestyle Expats, or Self-Initiated Expats (SIEs), are an important factor in today’s global force and the actual circumstances suggest the phenomenon is on the rise (Habti & Elo, 2019). In fact, thanks to technological changes, such as online recruiting, the labour market has become more international and more fluid and made the process of filling jobs internationally (internally or externally the organization) much simpler. As a consequence, an increasing number of professionals consider working abroad a realistic career option and there are growing opportunities to identify and eventually find a job abroad.

We are in the middle of an unprecedented global crisis, which is bound to create a stronger recession than the 2008 financial crisis, and the war for talent is as heated as ever. 

Specialized Subject Matter Experts are increasingly hard to find and when you turn to places rich in talent such as Singapore and certain areas of the US like Boston and the Silicon Valley, that’s of course where competition is already extremely high. Moreover, there is no real point in stealing from the competition if you aim at bringing in innovation. 

It’s 2020 and the global workforce is as varied as ever, with five generations working side by side and companies striving to fulfill all their D&I goals (gender/religion/ethnicity/sexual orientation). As cited by Forbes, diversity plays an ever more important role in recruitment and is proving to be directly correlated with an increased revenue for the company (Boston Consulting Group, 2018; KPMG, 2018). 

Yet, relocation policies have historically been a one-size-fits-all model and are often still struggling to include points such as religion, ethnicity, age, disability status, working mothers, non-traditional family units, etc. 

Make sure your Global Mobility policies acknowledge and support your employees’ varying needs to make them feel more encouraged to accept International Assignment. The point is to ensure that deserving and promising talent does not experience barriers to success.

Demographic changes will require highly-skilled migrants to fill positions as turnout of university graduates declines in developed countries. Also at the EU level and among the Member States there is consensus on the need to address labour market shortages, worsened by the deepening demographic crisis and skill mismatch (Platonova & Urso, 2012).

Even rich countries like  Liechtenstein, (Beck et al., 2018; Hauri et al., 2016) may have a hard time attracting talent. Other more traditional expat hubs, like Singapore, London, New York City, the UAE, Hong Kong and Switzerland, continue leading the ranking despite the high costs of living. In this case, according to the 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index, what really makes the difference are their socio-economic policies in which talent growth and management are central priorities. 

Perhaps even more important to acknowledge is that the world of work as we knew has already changed. With new technology enabling employees to work almost anywhere and anytime, the classic ‘nine to five’ is outdated. In an article published by Sage People even before the pandemic changed companies’ approach, figures speak for themselves:  not only do 50% of the US interviewees say they’d like to be more mobile at work, but a good 54% would change job if it meant more flexibility.

In Global Mobility, Virtual Assignments are an opportunity to give employees the much longed-for flexibility they seek. Despite Virtual Assignments having always been on the rise since the widespread implementation of the internet, it’s easier to see how they’re going to be even more numerous in the aftermath of the Corona-crisis. In fact, never before have so many employees worked remotely in order to guarantee essential business continuity. 

But there is another side of the medal, and this is the portion of talent who seek international experience as part of their decision to join a company.  In particular, overseas assignments are becoming more appealing among Millennials, who often see the opportunity to live and work abroad as more rewarding than a pay rise. They are called Digital Nomads or Telecommuters. According to Smart Gear, 90% of digital nomads plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers, while 94% of them encourage others to try Digital Nomadism themselves.

Whether or not you’re having troubles attracting talent, here are six basics to add to your recruiting suite that you should consider during and after the recruiting process. 

1 – Make Sure They Have a Realistic Picture of What it’s like to live in your Expat Hub

Try to put yourself in the mind of a candidate who is contacted by a company in a foreign location. What’s the first thing that you would like to know? Salary? Job title? The direction of the company? Probably none of these things, but rather: “Why would I want to move there?”

Moving continents, or even “just” countries, isn’t a decision that can be taken on the potential of a great office view only. Instead, candidates need to know what the place looks like, what language is spoken, where they (and maybe their families) would live and whether they would fit in.

It is useful to include this information on your careers page so as to make it more of a relocation portal and less of a job listing. Workable offers a service to help you in this process. Not only will candidates benefit from this information, but so will your company: showing what candidates want to know during the overseas job hiring process builds your credibility from the beginning.

This type of thinking is beneficial for companies at every level, whether you’re hiring someone 70 or 7,000 miles away.

2 – Help with the Move of Household Goods

Among Expats and Expat Spouses, the phase of moving abroad is often cited as the most stressful one. Moving out doesn’t take one day only: there are farewells, often a party, and especially when small kids are involved, the family needs to stay with friends or in a hotel room. While Expats are still busy handing their work over and finalizing conversations with clients, Expat Spouses are often alone in coordinating all the logistics behind the move. That’s why it is important that they are connected with a moving company. Having someone who takes care of their house goods until they are settled in the new location surely spares the Expat family from a lot of stress. 

If you are looking for a relocation company, consider paying a visit to the Keller Swiss Group. They offer relocation services, household removals, business relocation and household storage services, both in Switzerland and worldwide.

3 – Organize Support with Immigration 

Organizing support with immigration is definitely another helpful and efficient way of helping the expat family during the stressful pre-assignment phase. In recent years, the process of obtaining work permits and visas has become more complex. Letting Expats and Expat Spouses navigate this sea of bureaucracy all alone would put on them an incredible and unnecessary amount of stress. 

When it comes to immigration compliance, each case is different and needs to be examined thoroughly. Some relocation companies, like BecomeLocal in Switzerland, are specialists in this field. They can help you handle the permit process, write applications and submit to the authorities, instruct professionals and executives to obtain visas, sparing your organisation and the expat family a lot of hustle.

4 – Provide Spouse Career Support and A Pre-Hire Assessment for the Spouse

The effects that International Assignments have on the Expat Spouse’s wellbeing and state of mind are often underestimated. For some Expat Spouses, the sudden change from independent career person to stay-at-home parent has a strong psychological impact, even more so if getting a working visa is not possible.

Coaching is a very powerful tool with which companies can support Expat Spouses. With the help of a Career Coach, some Expat Spouses manage to start their own businesses while living abroad, thus finding deeper fulfillment in the experience.. At Global People Transitions we are specialized in this. If you want to know more about what we do to help Expat Spouses find motivation and new perspectives, visit Global People Transitions or send me an email (angela@globalpeopletransitions.com).

It is also very fair to the Expat Spouse to have a realistic idea of whether their profile actually leads to potential employment in the host market or whether their chances of finding work are slim. An Expat Spouse Coach can also help with a pre-hire assessment for the Expat Spouse.

5 – Consult them on Technical Issues such as how to get Health Insurance, what to do about their Taxes 

Once again try to put yourself in the mind of your future employees. They now have a clearer idea of what it means to live in your expat hub and they are positively considering relocating there. Perhaps their spouses and children are coming along. In this preparatory phase, Expats are inevitably very busy with what needs to be handled back at home in their professional and private life. But they also need to be ready for what’s coming next. 

Handling both “back home” and “in host country” can be extremely overwhelming, especially if this means going through important technical issues of a country with a different system and in a language they don’t understand. This is the right time to step in and consult them on important decisions such as which type of health insurance to get and how to do it, but also on how to handle their taxes. If you can’t deliver this in-house we’re happy to help.

6 – Sprinkle Everything With  A Bit More Human Touch

As I said earlier and many times before, HUMAN TOUCH is my MISSION and the key to enhancing the employee experience. Deloitte (2019) proved to be onboard with that when stating that today’s global workforce is attracted and motivated by a more personalised, agile and holistic experience than before. This is why it’s important that you find your way to unlock the HUMAN TOUCH. For example, you can start by welcoming new team members with a hand-written card. You will make their first day a celebration. 

If you wish to review your global hiring policies or your process please contact me for a proposal via angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

Resources 

Become Local. Swiss Immigration Adviser. https://www.becomelocal.ch 

Harrison, C. (2019, 19 Sep.). „7 Surprising Statistics about Digital Nomads.” Smart Gear Blog. https://smartgear.travel/7-surprising-statistics-about-digital-nomads/

Hayes, A. (2020, 7 Apr.). „What is a Digital Nomad?”Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/digital-nomad.asp

Keller Swiss Group. Worldwide Moving Relocation. https://www.kellerswissgroup.com/

MBO Partners. (2018). „Rising Nomadism: A Rising Trend.” MBO Partners, Inc. https://s29814.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/StateofIndependence-ResearchBrief-DigitalNomads.pdf 

Montilla, E.  (2020, 17 Jan.). „Achieving workplace diversity through recruitment in tech.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/01/17/achieving-workplace-diversity-through-recruitment-in-tech/#2214496a1359

References

Beck, P., Eisenhut, P. and Thomas, L. (2018). „Fokus Arbeitsmarkt: Fit für di Zukunft?”. Stiftung Zukunft.li. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from https://www.stiftungzukunft.li/publikationen/fokus-arbeitsmart-fit-fuer-die-zukunft 

Boston Consulting Group. (2018). „How diverse leadership teams boost innovation.”, BCG. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from https://www.bcg.com/publications/2018/how-diverse-leadership-teams-boost-innovation.aspx 

KPMG. (2018). „Inclusion and Diversity: How Global Mobility can help move the Needle”, KPMG. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle-FINAL.pdf

Habti, D and Elo, M. (2019). Global Mobility of Highly Skilled People. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 

Hauri, D., Eisenhut, P., and Lorenz T. (2016). „Knacknuss Wachstum und Zuwanderung: Hintergründe unde Zusammenhange.”Stiftung Zukunft.li. Retrieved 28 May, 2020, from https://www.stiftungzukunft.li/application/files/3215/1635/3318/Knacknuss_Wachstum_und_Zuwanderung_Endfassung_22_11_2016.pdf

Platonova A. and Urso, G. (2012). „Labour Shortages and Migration Policy.” International Organization for Migration. Retrieved May 28, 2020, from https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/labour_shortages_and_migration_policy.pdf?language=en

Munich

The German language or “Deutsch” is the world’s 15th most spoken language according to Ethnologue’s latest data. The language is spoken in 28 countries, and 76 million people worldwide speak it as their mother tongue. Globally, there are 132.1 million German language speakers. As of 2016, Germany is home to 82.67 million, 95% of whom speak German as their first language.

Status of the German language

German is the official language in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. In Switzerland, it is one of the country’s three official languages. German, which belongs to the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, shares some of the characteristics with its co-branch members, English, Dutch and Frisian languages.

It is a cultural language in some parts of Brazil and a national minority language in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. German is a national language in Namibia and a minority language in Russia. Many more countries around the world speak German, including France and South Africa and the German diaspora in several countries, such as Argentina, Australia, the United States, Canada, Paraguay and Costa Rica contribute to the spread of the German language.

Working in Germany

If you’re a qualified professional, you’ll find many work opportunities in Germany. Like other developed countries, there are standard immigration conditions that you should meet. You need to get recognition for your professional qualifications and meet the requirements for German language skills.

Let us say that you have fulfilled all the requirements and are now starting to work in Germany, so you’ll be interacting more with new officemates.

This article shows you how the German language expressions and manners create a positive impact on the work environment in the country.

Communication in the Workplace

As an employee, you will have many chances to converse with your German colleagues or even clients, and you’ll be using verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, as you get familiar with your new work environment. In Germany, the communication style is often direct. Germans are not overly emotional during conversations at work. You could consider it a plus since you do not have to indulge in small talk and you can quickly express your opinion or concern. Thus, it is to your advantage to learn to do the same.

Answering the Phone with Your Last Name

As to answering the phone, you have to observe some specific rules. You have to be respectful. It is customary for the Germans to answer the phone by giving their last name. When you are calling a person you do not know, you should use “Sie”, which is a polite form of address. Being polite is very important. Stick to the polite way of speech, using their titles and their last names. Using their first names used to be reserved for family and friends. There is is a shift in the German society and the “Du” becomes more normal at work as well.

Being on Time is Crucial

Being punctual is very important to Germans. Many companies offer flexible hours, but for those who have fixed work schedules, punctuality is necessary. If you are going to be late, it is imperative that you call the office and briefly state your reason. If you are attending a work session or a meeting, please be on time as it is part of the German culture to start and end meetings during the appointed hours.

Unlike in other countries where you can discuss other issues, Germans prefer only to discuss what’s on the agenda. Moreover, it is not standard practice for office workers to walk into another colleague’s office to meet unannounced. If there are pressing matters to be discussed, prior notice is needed either by email or by phone.

Building a Relationship

You can say that Germans are quite reserved and they are not particularly gifted in making small talk. If you are from another country, use your knowledge of the German language to your advantage. Help keep the office environment relaxed by developing a flair for small talk. It can lead to better office camaraderie and lasting friendships.  

If you succeed in engaging your German colleagues in small talk, stick to safe topics like sports, the weather, hobbies or travel. It’s not proper to ask a new friend’s income. Likewise, do observe personal space.

Socializing is part of the work culture in Germany, often in the form of excursions and small celebrations in the office. You should attend, although talks about business or work should be avoided.

Learning the German language will help you to be comfortably conversant with colleagues. You do not have to be knowledgeable or funny to engage your German acquaintances in friendly conversations. What you need to know is how to relax and develop the art of small talk. Listen to how Germans start conversations and observe their language expressions to help you imbibe the language better.

Germans are perceived as humorless, precise, punctual, disciplined, direct, and organized. But if you look at their work environment, their language expressions and their manners contribute significantly to their business success.

Germany’s economy is one of the strongest in Europe. Working in Germany can be challenging. If you want to get out of your comfort zone, you discover many things about yourself, explore another culture, become more competitive and learn different work environments and management styles.

Are you ready to take the challenge of learning the German language?

Sean Hopwood, MBA is founder and President of Day Translations, an online translation and localization services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications.

Find DayTranslations and Sean on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/daytranslations1/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanhopwood/

Please check out our website https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/do-you-know-german-well/

Family Separation

Last week we talked about how family challenges and marital issues greatly impact the outcome of international assignments. We also saw that a large number of companies list  Expat Spouse’s unhappiness as the primary cause of Expat Failure, highlighting the importance of Expat Spouse career support programs. This week, we will talk more extensively about the kind of support you can give to Dual-Career Expat Couples and why that matters if you work in HR and Global Mobility.

I have always advocated for Global Mobility Managers to be more proactive about involving Expat Spouses. Sometimes I sound like a broken record though. Anyway it’s 2020 so I reiterate what I’ve been repeating for years.

We want to be proactive!

The days of the passive “trailing spouse”, when they were marginally involved in any decision of moving abroad, are definitely gone. Today, according to the 2018 Relocating Partner Survey, 97% of mobile employees actively involve their partners in the discussion before accepting an assignment, so why shouldn’t you?

We want to be inclusive!

Employers cite a variety of reasons for supporting Dual-Career Expat Couples via policy and practice. The primary reason is to increase staff mobility. Some employers also do it to reduce the costs of assignment refusal or early return and promote family friendly policies. Others want to support diversity or gender initiatives.

One figure in particular stands out in the latest KPMG report: 39%. This indicates the percentage of surveyed companies pointing out that sexual orientation is the main demographic reason leading an employee to refuse an assignment. But 39% is also the percentage of companies indicating that the employees’ dependents impact their decisions to accept an assignment. Perhaps, in your career as GMM, you too have witnessed these scenarios and you aim now at broadening the pool of talent by making it more diverse and inclusive. 

Here is how you can still help your company achieve its Diversity and Inclusion goals, improving brand, reputation and global market competitiveness.

  • Review the demographics of your global mobility team based on diversity and change policies accordingly.
  • Diversify international assignment terms. 
  • Adjust policies for selecting candidates.
  • Broaden communication about opportunities.
  • Extend leadership training to Global Mobility to reduce unconscious bias.

We want to bring back the Human Touch!

What you can do to help Expats and Expat Spouses is to ease the external stressors to their relationship caused by the international assignment. Most importantly, take the Expat Spouse seriously!

Here are seven provisions you can take up in your guidelines.

1 – Review all your Global Mobility Guidelines

Today’s mobile employees are no longer interested exclusively in the financial aspect of their international assignment package. They are also very concerned about the impact of the move on  their spouses’ careers while abroad. This is a consequence of the increased levels of equality within the couple: 77% of Expat Spouses work before the assignment and 82% of them secure a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degree (2018 Relocating Partner Survey). In short, the current mobile population won’t accept being treated like their predecessors. 

Even if 62% of employers wish to encourage employee acceptance of an assignment by offering support to Expat Spouses, most employees are still frustrated by what employers are offering today.

An increasing number of Dual-Career Expat Couples depend on the income of their spouses during international transfers. Today, dividing Expat Spouses in the “working” and the “non-working” categories does not match reality anymore, especially with the whole new range of possibilities that smart working opens up. Employers should therefore ensure that their partner policies support these choices equally for working and non-working partners in order to avoid any form of discrimination.

According to a report published by Permits Foundations in 2012, only 33% of the companies surveyed provided career support to Expat Spouses under a formal written policy. Another 11% had informal guidelines, while 27% of them gave assistance on a case-by-case basis. 29% provided no support at all. 

With a partner support policy in place you will more easily become a more attractive employer.

2 – Involve the Expat Spouse in the  Pre-Assignment Phase

During this phase, there are probably lots of questions going on in the Expat Spouse’s head, and feelings of euphoria and anxiety often alternate with each other. They might be wondering what impact the move will have on their children and whether they will be able to find employment in the new country. It is part of your role of Global Mobility Manager to offer early career assessment for the Expat Spouse as well as information on international schooling options. Additionally, since Expat Spouses are often in charge of the logistics behind the move, it is very important that you are able to connect them with relocation services and immigration providers ahead of the move.

3 – Help with the Work Permit

Nowadays, Expat Spouses are allowed to work on a dependent work permit in the vast majority of the top host locations accounting for 80% of today’s global mobility (2018 Relocating Partner Survey). This huge achievement is fruit of the Permits Foundation, which fights for the rights of relocating partners to be able to work on their dependent permit. 

However, some countries present exceptions and subtleties linked to marital status. Non-married partners from opposite sexes as well as same sex couples face more challenges accessing work permits. In countries which do not allow Expat Spouses to work, securing a work permit is almost impossible.

It is therefore your duty to help Expat Spouses navigate the world of bureaucracy specific to each individual assignment. 

4 – Research Work Opportunities for Expat Spouses

Career stagnation is a major stressor to any relationship. Therefore, as one way to avoid putting the success of assignments in jeopardy, your employer could provide work opportunities to the Expat Spouse if they work in a similar field or area. What I’m also doing is to check with other companies if they have availability for the Expat Spouse especially when they work in a related field.

In this initial exploratory phase, it is also important to verify that the Expat Spouse’s degree is in line with what recruiters expect to see in the host country: qualifications obtained in one country are not necessarily recognised in another.

The 2018 Relocating Partner surveys highlights how career and job search support is now offered by 71% of employers, a sharp increase in comparison to previous data.

5 – Provide Transition Coaching For The Expat Couple

Coaching for the Expat Couple is also an option. In my experience it is also helpful if one person of the couple is going through a coaching program. Your  company should take over the cost within the Global Mobility guidelines. Companies offer Expat Spouse Career and Life Support programs to assist Expat Spouses. Most Swiss-based companies provide up to 7’000 CHF in services. This is a lot of money! We provide a full career coaching program with HireMe! for CHF 3’500 + VAT.  

Transition coaching for Expats and Expat Spouses is becoming a more and more prominent concept in companies around the world. As a Global Mobility Manager, you already probably know that supporting Expats and Expat Spouses through each different adjustment stage they experience leads to a higher satisfaction rate with the assignment and the service of Global Mobility in general. 

The sad part is that Expat Couples often don’t claim support as they haven’t seen the GM policy and have not been involved in the decision-making process.

6 – Offer Host Language Course

The most common forms of assistance already in place addressing spouse career concerns are language training, provided by almost two-thirds of employers (Permits Foundation, 2012). If there is a business need, companies generally pay for a 60 hour-course.

7 – Pay for Support for Children and Teenagers

Not only Expats and Expat Spouses, but their children too, need support during the assignment. After all, children are the most critical asset in the expatriation process. One of the tools you can offer them is intercultural training, especially if the children are in local schools. Giving training to Expat Children has a lot of value, and you will see that once you make the children happy, you will have a higher ROI, higher retention rate and a better Expat satisfaction rate in your KPIs.

When Family Separation is the Best Option!

Sometimes, things just don’t work out and the result of that international assignment is a family separation. There are also instances where it is better for the Expat Spouse and potential children to stay in the home country. One reason could be schooling, another reason health and safety. Consult with me if you have any questions around how can bring the #HumanTouch back into your Global Mobility Program and Team.

Kind Regards,

Angie.

HireMe! and The Global Career Workbook

We developed the HireMeExpress” program to support your Expat Spouses to find a job in a new country. We mainly focus on Switzerland but many parts of HireMe! and “The Global Career Workbook” work in many expat hubs from Berlin to Bombay.

References:

KPMG. (2018a). „Inclusion and Diversity: How Global Mobility can help move the Needle”, KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle-FINAL.pdf

KPMG. (2018b). „Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility”, KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

NetExpat & EY. (2018). Relocating Partner Survey Report. https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-2018-relocating-partner-survey-final-report/$File/ey-2018-relocating-partner-survey-final-report.pdf

Permits Foundation. (2012). International Mobility and Dual-Career Survey of International Employers. https://www.permitsfoundation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Permits+Global+Survey+2012nw.pdf


Stop me if you have heard this before, but the general belief among people seems to be that separation rates among expatriates are higher than those among the native (aka stay-at-home) professionals. I would like to point out that this is not the case. The reality is in fact that this idea comes from the fact that the impacts of family separations are much greater. Think about the difficulty of handling separation and potential custody disputes through geographical boundaries.

Discussion among multinational Global Mobility circles is centering on the issue of Dual Career Expat Couples. 

Why You Need To Care About This

You may be wondering, how do their personal relationships and related problems impact businesses? The answer is simple: 

People would choose to leave their international assignment in order to save their marriages or as one Partner in one of my former GM Leader roles once said “Happy Wife, happy Life”.

In fact, a McKinsey study shows that 70% of expat assignments fail, meaning the position gets vacated, companies have to spend extra money to replace and train personnel, meaning their growth slows down.  Businesses therefore have a vested interest in seeing these relationships continue to succeed. 

To get the perspective of the professionals, research conducted by PwC found that most employees listed the spouse’s career as a barrier to mobility. 

Many would not choose to disrupt their spouse’s established careers and move them to another country.

Reports from Crown and Brookfield pointed out that family challenges of international relocation remain a top reason for assignment refusal and assignment failure, while a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggest that many expatriate marriages fail often at huge cost to organizations (McNulty, 2015). In fact, nearly 70% of expatriates and their spouses reported “marital breakdown”as the most important reason why relocations fail (Lazarova et al., 2015; Lazarova & Pascoe, 2013). 

The reasons for “Expatriate Failure” are usually not well captured. There is a data hole here and we have to assume that family reasons are a major reason for expat failure rates. This lack of data is something that needs to be addressed in the near future as the importance of this issue rises, like a recent survey from Mercer highlights. According to the NETEXPAT and EY Relocation Partner Survey 71% of the companies they surveyed claim that Expat Spouse’s unhappiness is the primary reason for Expat Failure. 

In the light of all these findings, improving spouse and family assistance as well as spouse career support clearly need to feature at the top of the list of challenges and priorities of Global Mobility programs.

When it comes to “Expatriate Failure” rates, one example that I tend to criticize is that often assignments end prematurely because of business considerations, expats accepting a new role in a new location or ending school years. However, the assignment was still a success. 

The current definition of “Expatriate Failure” would categorize such an assignment as a “failure”

In contradiction to “Expatriate failure”, “Expatriate Adjustment” is used as a common way to measure “success”of an  international assignment or project and often equalized with carrying out the assignment during the assigned period.

There isn’t a quick or easy solution to this issue, especially with the data hole present. Let us therefore look at possible solutions to this issue, how to improve the Expat Experience (XX) for your spouse or life partner and how best to handle the issue in case the worst outcome becomes inevitable.

Besides Expat Spouse’s career, KPMG identified another main demographic reason that leads employees not to take up an international assignment: sexual orientation. 

In 2018, only 40% of the companies they surveyed had Diversity and Inclusion objectives as part of their Global Mobility strategy, while only 20% had actually planned to review their policies after reassessing the demographics of their globally mobile employees based on diversity. 

Additionally, excluding gender, other points such as ethnicity, age, religion, disability status, have not yet been captured in the global mobility space. 

Like in most of today’s international companies, you too have probably come to recognize the proven benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. However, if you are in a same-sex relationship the reality of Global Mobility can be complex. Even if your Global Mobility Manager is open you could be faced with immigration challenges and prejudice in the host country.

How we Define Expat Spouse

As most countries require you to be legally married to enter their borders, I will be using the term Expat Spouse for life partners as well. Also, this term applies to all genders and same-sex relationships. For the sake of clarity, with the gender neutral ‘spouse’ is meant the expatriate’s life partner and the term is also commonly included in contracts and policies for international assignments. We will also use the term Expat Couple. For further definitions and terminology you can consult “The Global Mobility Workbook”(2019).

What you can do: Eight  Ideas to Avoid Family Separation on Your Expat Assignment

1 – Involve Your Spouse 

It is crucial that you (the Expat) appreciate and contribute in any way possible in order to not let your Expat Spouse compromise their career. Many Expat Spouses can probably relate to the experience of living in a country which is not always of their choosing. 

Often, they also have very high professional qualifications and years of solid work experience behind them. Suddenly though, they are left without any employment despite real efforts to find work, and might even struggle to have their degrees recognized in the new country. 

The most important point here is that you involve your Expat Spouse in the decision-making process from the beginning, not only when the moving truck pulls up the driveway.

2 – Understand Immigration

Many countries do not automatically grant the right to work to the Expat Spouse. You need to check if your company will support your Expat Spouse with obtaining a work permit. You can check the host country’s immigration websites for initial guidance.

3 – Support as Long as necessary 

Assist your spouse in getting a job or starting their own business by being financially supportive. You can agree on a temporary loan so they don’t feel dependent on you. Discuss the financial situation during the assignment and what it will mean for their old-age pension and other saving plans they might have. Make sure you aren’t troubling them by overemphasizing.

4 – Spend Quality Time Together

A new place can feel daunting and scary, often lonely. Spend quality time with your spouse so they don’t feel alone in a new place. Plan weekends away so you get to know the positives about living in a new culture, not just the daily life. Explore the new culture and meet other people to build a network of friends fast.

5 – Consider Joining A Support Group

Joining a support group of people who are going through similar experiences can also guide your Expat Spouse in adjustment to change. There are several online and physical communities around the world that are worth looking into. And when it comes to Switzerland alone, the choice is large: from the well known Internations to Expatica, and from the Zurich Spooglers to the Hausmen of Basel, the opportunities to connect with fellow Expats and Expat SpooglersSpouses in the country are plenty.

6 – Help Your Spouse In Finding Volunteer Work 

In Switzerland a lot of associations depend on volunteers. Search for English-speaking groups your Expat Spouse could support, like SINGA Switzerland or Capacity Zurich. If you have children , you can also offer your help to international schools and kindergartens. Generally, this is easier done by joining parents’ associations like the one at the Leysin American School in Switzerland, or at TASIS, but also at the Zurich International School or at the Inter-Community School Zurich.

7 – Give them a Coaching Voucher for a Session with Angie

I have a lot of experience with helping clients to mend their broken relationships. One session can already help to shift the Spouse’s mindset from victim to self-reliant, strong, and active professional.

8 – Step Back For The Next Career Move Of Your Spouse

Even though this one idea is pretty self explanatory, it is hard to do in practice especially if your income is a lot higher than the income of your Spouse. Take turns in whose career is leading the decision for the next assignment. That means stepping back when it is your spouse’s turn to move up in their career.

Kind Regards,

Angie.

Resources

If you cannot afford our program you can still profit from our expertise if you purchase “The Global Career Workbook” (2016) and read these blog posts.

Hit post No. 1

How to Get a Swiss Recruiters Attention Through Well Written Cover Letters & Organised Testimonials

Hit post No. 2

Top 10 Tips for a Killer Linkedin Profile

Hit post No. 3

Bourne Effect

Other helpful posts:

References:

Black, S. J., Mendenhall, M. E., Oddou, G. (1991). „Toward a Comprehensive Model of International Adjustment: An Integration of Multiple Theoretical Perspective”, The Academy of Management Review, DOI: 10.2307/258863

Bruno, Debra. (2015, March 18). „Divorce, Global Style: for Expat Marriages Breaking Up is Harder to Do”, The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 29, 2020, from https://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/03/18/divorce-global-style-for-expat-marriages-breaking-up-is-harder-to-do/

KPMG. (2018). „Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility”, KPMG. Retrieved April 30, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

Hsieh, T., Lavoie, J. & Samek R. (1999): „Are you taking your Expatriate Talent seriously?”, The McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved April 29, 2020, from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-63725939/are-you-taking-your-expatriate-talent-seriously.

Lazarova, M., McNulty, Y. & Semeniuk, M. (2015). „Expatriate family narratives on international mobility: key characteristics of the successful moveable family”, in Suutari, V. and Makela, L. (Eds), Work and Personal Life Interface of International Career Contexts, Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 55-76. 

Lazarova, M. & Pascoe, R. (2013). „We are not on vacation! Bridging the scholar-practitioner gap in expatriate family research”, in Lazarova, M., McNulty, Y. and Reiche, S. (symposium organizers), ‘Moving Sucks!’: What Expatriate Families Really Want (and Get) When They Relocate, Symposium at 2013 US Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Lake Buena Vista, FL.

McNulty, Y. (2015). „Till stress do us part: the causes and consequences of expatriate divorce”. Journal of Global Mobility, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 106–136. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-06-2014-0023

McNulty, Y., Selmer, J. (2017): Research handbook of expatriates.

Weinberger, A. (2019a): „The Global Mobility Workbook“, Third Edition, Global People Transitions, Zurich.  

Weinberger, A. (2019b): „The Use of Digital Intercultural Coaching with Expats and Implications for Transition Plans in Global Mobility”, Master’s thesis, The Institute for Taxation and Economics, Rotterdam, from https://feibv.nl/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Master-Thesis_Weinberger-Angela_Jan-2019_Final.pdf

Emergency

If you are on my reader list you have probably known me for a while now. In all those years of us interacting with each other did I ever let you down? Did I ever mention that I was “under the weather”, “have a migraine” or “that I am on sick leave.”? 

Do you remember when that was?

Because the last time I remember that I was not working because I had the flu was in 2011 when I was still working for PwC. You probably didn’t know me then. The last time I was hospitalized with a slipped disk was in 2007 in Frankfurt. I’m considered an active and healthy person at almost 48 years (Yes, rub it in…). As you know from Pandemic – Part 1 I can go skiing for a week despite the fact that I’m not exercising as much as I should. 

Come #Day4 (Tuesday, 17 March 20) and I think I will die alone in my apartment. After the hasty return from skiing and emergency managing work on Monday I felt extremely dizzy that morning. I was concerned that I was going to faint. I wanted to get tested for CORONA-Virus. I made an appointment at my doctor’s practice for the afternoon. I was willing to pay 200 CHF (that was the price I heard). I just wanted clarity on what was going on with me.

Emergency

The Dark Side clouds Your Judgement

My doctor suggested I was having an anxiety attack from being alone at home and from reading everything I could about CORONA. He said that my blood and blood pressure was fine, heart rate fine and that he couldn’t hear anything worth noting in my lungs. Also, he mentioned that they didn’t have enough tests so only “serious cases” would be tested. I wasn’t even a “case”. I was just imagining… The dark side had taken over obviously. I felt stupid, like a little reprimanded 7 year old asking to stay home from school for nothing. Went home and (oh surprise) was calm, composed and better. 

I worked more than normal, because (as you might know) I’m dealing with immigration issues, health and safety topics and I run a start-up. I had new team members to train from the home office and a lot of stuff needed to be organized now that is usually done by other people…such as making sure I have something to eat. In week 2 I had a migraine and other issues but women get that stuff (although it’s never been so bad…). I reminded my doctor one more time in writing that I wanted to get tested and why. In the meantime, two friends from skiing were confirmed positive.

After the second week of quarantine was over, I informed my doctor and the cantonal health authority  that I felt okay and that I would like to ask my partner to return home now. The doctor had previously instructed me to “clean the bathroom”. You have to know that we have a rather small apartment in central Zurich. I was concerned that my partner could get infected through me which is why I had asked him to move out while I was in quarantine.

Kylo Ren must Breathe

To be honest I had breathing issues in St. Anton and my chest hurt sometimes. My friend said that I was snoring at night. Like everybody else though I was in strong denial. I thought it could be the virus but there were also a lot of other options (mountain disease, overconsumption of Schnaps, lack of general fitness, a tight nose…). 

I should have listened to my body instead of the doctor. From #Day17 onwards I found it hard to talk on G-Hangout, my voice was straining, I was getting tired easily. (I can hold full-day workshops and lectures normally.) My stress level was at peak because I didn’t sleep well at all. #Day18 and #Day19 I just hoped for the weekend.

#Day21 I need to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon. #Day22 finally Saturday and I’m outside collecting twigs, returning the recycling, making decorations, spring cleaning and building a bird gym. 

#Day23 I spent painting and offline. I was in my happy place, the post on the Pandemic Part 3 was almost done and I felt I was finally productive again. I felt that we would manage to survive this pandemic as a couple, as a family and as a team.

Suddenly, I felt like Kylo Ren had put his mask over my face (how did he do that?). My breathing was harder, the chest pain became worse and I sat at the open window counting to 10. When I lifted the washing basket I saw stars (not the ones outside). 

This was not me. The dark side had taken over my body. I was out of force.

The Corona-Jedi

On Sunday night we decided to call the Aerztefon. Despite a few technical Internet issues I got help and an ambulance took me to the hospital. Sunday night after a CT the doctor confirmed, that I have #COVID19. 

Many of my symptoms over the last three to four weeks were probably COVID19-related. As soon as I was lying there I started to relax. I felt safe. I could finally sleep well for the first time since we left St. Anton. (…)

The Hirslanden clinic in Zurich is well-equipped to deal with COVID19 patients. They have great nurses and doctors. I had a nice view, birds singing in the morning and evening. The food was excellent. On Thursday (#Day27) I was released and asked to join the rebellion.

I’m now staying in a temporary place until a spaceship picks me up because my partner is in quarantine at home. I feel fine today as I’m writing this. I still need to bring my energy level back to 100% but I can proudly say that I’m now a CORONA-JEDI. 

In my view, the “mild” version of COVID19 should be rebranded to “the Rollercoaster”. Looking back I think I went through five loops of feeling better, then worse, then better, then worse etc. With every loop a new area of my body was under attack. RIght now, I still have a mild fallout and I tend to become tired out of the blue. 

In case you are now in the situation where you are not sure about your symptoms please request to get tested with urgency. If the cabin fever is getting too hard to handle, please reach out to me. We can talk this through. You will be fine eventually. Don’t make the same mistake and wait too long. Get clarity now and deal with the dark force. Check out my 20 missions below and don’t be a stranger.

Thank you to everyone who messaged me last week. I really needed to hear your words.

Have a creative week ahead!

Angie

 

20 Quarantine Missions

40) Get to know the dark force. Watch this video by @chriscuomo. Once I got that, I decided to get up and move in my “isolation cell”. Since the beginning of the lockdown in Switzerland I have taken in the fresh Zürich air as often as possible even if it means wearing a pashmina in the summer. Get up and move.

41) Try Claudia Horner’s Online Active Meditation. I’ve been trying to show you active meditation in this video in SloMo. You can do this in a small confined space as well.

42) Make Something Creative with Coffee. Coffee powder is useful to save plants.

43) Learn to Bake German Vollkornbrot. This is a great skill to have at any time, anywhere in the galaxy. Even in Bothawui the traders sometimes accept German Vollkornbrot as a currency especially when they have digestive challenges.

44) Start A Wish Book. A wish book helps you to write down what you are wishing for and keep it all in one place. I’m at wish No. 1281 right now. It’s important to make concrete, motivating, always present, imaginable, sensible and ethical wishes. They should be open-ended (because otherwise we call them goals.).

45) Upgrade The Home Office. Get a few classy products via home delivery by Papeterie Fischer. They still have toilet paper and their service is completely personal.

I would like to buy that globe for my upgraded home office. Seen at @paperterie_fischer_ag.

46) Read A Paper Book. Discover the good old bookstore again.

47) Take a Bollywood dancing tutorial with Stuti Aga Dance Company.

48) Follow real Subject Matter Experts and Scientists. Here is a wonderful analysis by @maithi_nk in GERMAN. This is a well-explained analysis of where we right now in the pandemic and what to expect by maiLAB. She has a few followers.

49) Buy That Camera. Take an online photography class and work on your technique.

50) Plan A Journey to A Country You Didn’t Dare to Go Before Covid19. What’s the worst thing that can happen? That you catch diarrhea? Ha.

51) Write That Novel You Have Been Talking About. If that’s too scary, write a guest blog for us on the #pandemic and how you are coping with it from wherever you live right now. Baby Steps, honey. 

52) Conduct one Expert Interview per Week. Post your video on Youtube or a write-up on LinkedIn. Give the Subject Matter Expert the credit, exposure and funding they might need right now in order to continue their life’s work.

53) Use ISOS. If your company is a member of “International SOS” download the ISOS App and sign up NOW.

54) Send an Orchid to an Elderly Person by chipping in the CROWDFUNDING of Hans-Peter Meyer and his wife from SwissOrchid. You can follow them on Instagram too.

55) Make a fasting cure for a few days. Angela Warm offers webinars on cleaning and cleansing. She also mixes the most amazing soothing creams. https://warmwellness.com/

56) Go Wild with Online Karaoke. I haven’t tried this because I prefer to sing in the bathtub with Chris Mann singing Phantom of the Opera. However, I think it would be a lot of fun. I also love this song “Thank you Frontline”.

57) Write the SWISS Emergency Number on a Big Display. This way you don’t have to search when you’re unwell. Remember 144 is for life-threatening emergencies. For #COVID19 call the “Aerztefon” if you suspect you have #COVID19 and cannot reach your doctor. 0800 33 66 55

58) Go on a Movie Date. Order a pizza or piadina from SPIZZATI and watch a movie with a date online. There is FB Watchparty, streaming etc but you can also watch TV together and use the commercial breaks to talk via WhatsApp call. During the moving you just mute yourself. That way it feels as if you are watching together.

59) Join A Hackathon Like this One. Hackathons can be a high energy, adrenaline filled event for coding enthusiasts, but they are now coming together to do global good, like the Versus Virus Hackathon. Considering joining it if you are eager to help.

60) Pack an Emergency Backpack w/ Essentials. Toiletry, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, comb, brush, razors, cream and vaseline, eau de toilette, medicine, paper and pen, a pocket book, phone, charger, headphones, wallet, passport or ID, medical information (allergies), emergency contact numbers, cash, jogging pants, one change of clothes and underwear.

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#CoronaCatan

Do you know the board game CATAN? I’m rebuilding a spaceship in my living room. Sometimes it is also called home office. I’m looking for a few items that I don’t have right now. Maybe you want to get rid of them in exchange for other essentials. I’m looking for a good microphone, an external CD drive, binoculars / opera glasses and a big globe. I would also like a telescope. I can pay in the currency of toilet paper, yeast and pasta.

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Self-Isolation Instructions

If you need to self-isolate (anywhere in the world) these instructions might be helpful.

https://www.bag.admin.ch/dam/bag/en/dokumente/mt/k-und-i/aktuelle-ausbrueche-pandemien/2019-nCoV/merkblatt-selbstisolation-covid-19.pdf.download.pdf/covid-19_instructions_self-isolation.pdf

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FOLLOW ME

You can subscribe to my blog www.globalpeopletransitions.com and you’ll receive the weekly “Global People Club Sandwich”

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/become-a-reader-of-the-global-people-club-sandwich/

Follow me on Twitter (@angieweinberger).

Connect with me on LinkedIn

I also share personal photos on Instagram (@angie_weinberger).

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Do you like conspiracy theories?

Various novel-like Holocaust scenarios circulate on the Internet that report the outbreak of a biological weapon from Wuhan. The last one I read scared me a little but then I thought it must be FAKE news because according to this theory I would be dead right now and it’s weird that I’m still able to write to you if I was dead right? So I dug a bit and found a good site to verify whether what you are reading is real or just another conspiracy theory. What annoys me even more than conspiracy theory (where at least I can appreciate the storytelling element of the writer) are those former doctors, virologists or others who downplay the Corona-Virus. These people are responsible for stubborn elderly citizens still going to supermarkets and pharmacies thinking that COVID19 is just “like the flu”. The other people that annoy me (please unfollow if you belong to them) are those who think that a 2% mortality rate is acceptable. Either they don’t understand statistics (please unfollow) or they are just nazis or social darwinists. A 2% mortality rate is high.

Example Switzerland: They say for “herd immunity” you need about 60% of the population infected and healed from COVID19. 

8’200’000 x 0.6 = 4’920’000

4’920’000 x0.02 = 98’400 (UNLESS a CURE is found before).

By now you know at least one person who is infected so think about this. I’m still unhappy about the lack of CORONA Tests in Switzerland. It took Switzerland five weeks to get organized for mass testing. An app is being discussed to track and trace infected people and their contacts.

This is a country that is one of the biggest pharma exporters in the world, supposedly has one of the highest standards in healthcare in the world AND practices “WAR Scenarios” constantly. Am I missing something?

Further reads:

https://amp.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/05/theres-something-out-there-spread-of-disease

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN20M19I