Every Expat and Spouse Should have the Best Experience – Why we Need to Transform Global Mobility
Posted on

Over the last twenty years in Human Resources, I noticed that a lot of international talents were frustrated in the process of moving to another country for work. It was not only because their companies paid them another package than what they expected. It was also because a lot of international assignees underestimated the challenge of moving to another country.

For example, expats moving to Switzerland often think it will be easier to find affordable childcare, high-quality apartments, and a job for their “trailing” spouse. Most expats believe it will be easy to learn the local language (or they even think we speak English). Most expats believe that they are going to have a great career step after their repatriation. I have seen a lot of anger when assignees went to another country and when they returned home and did not get that promotion or the role they were hoping for.

Regularly, I have clients break out in tears because they feel overwhelmed by the international assignment experience. When I worked in India and when I moved to Switzerland from Germany it was not always just “Cricket & Bollywood” or “Cheese & Chocolate”.

 

Five Gaps in the Global Mobility Approach

There are five gaps in the Global Mobility approach and I think this is true across industries and countries.

  1. Expats are often selected on an ad-hoc basis and intercultural competence is hardly ever taken into account in the selection process. Female Expats are still greatly underrepresented.
  2. International assignments hardly ever have a- business case showing assignment drivers, measurable targets, expected gains, growth opportunities, assignment costs and a repatriation plan for the expat.
  3. Most companies lack succession plans where repatriates could be included with their future roles and often expats are overlooked when it comes to filling roles in headquarters or when promotions are due.
  4. Global Mobility Professionals are hardly ever considered strategic partners of the business. They are often just seen as administrators of the process while the decisions about who is going where are taken solely by the business.
  5. The Expat Family is hardly considered in the Global Mobility Approach. Only a few forward-thinking companies offer career support for spouses. I have not seen any company who helps with educational considerations and advice for the Expat Children. Relocation companies only give minimal support and hardly understand the concerns of globally mobile parents. Most relocation consultants have never moved to another country in their lives.

There are also five global trends that have made Global Mobility more difficult in the last 10 years.

Budget cuts due to the Coronavirus Pandemic

The financial impact of the global coronavirus pandemic has yet to be fully calculated, though McKinsey and the BBC have presented analysis based on the available datasets and the outlook is bleak. Combine that with the fact that the world was still recovering from the worldwide financial crisis of 2008 and you realize how deep the effects are. With both crises, it has been observed that travel and expat budgets get reduced to a minimum. With the current pandemic, especially, that has left Expats stranded, with their support system from the employer vanishing. The Expat Experience coming out of this COVID-19 driven financial crisis – will get worse.

Many Expats and Repatriates are finding themselves unemployed in their respective home countries. We also see that companies are struggling to sustain, with even large organizations filing for bankruptcy (like Virgin Australia). More are merging or getting acquired. Even those that have managed to transition to a work from home structure have had to downsize, with the working employees not guaranteed fixed working hours, which means that job security for all staff is non-existent. Especially in the EU, many countries are new to this kind of unstable job market and do not yet have the tools and systems in place to allow their workforce to work fluidly and flexibly from anywhere. Cherished and spoilt expats dwell on the verge of desperation because they have been made redundant, even if they may not be at the end of their contract.

Local Plus is the New Black

Other expats receive a local contract without really understanding what that means for their social security, long-term pension and often they do not know that their work and residence permit depends on their employer too. Employers find “Local Plus” convenient but they do not really consider all the risks these moves entail because many business decisions in the last ten years are driven by controllers.

The Talent Gap

We now lack the critically needed talent in important growth areas. Programmers and engineers are examples of professionals that are in high demand.- There is certainly a mismatch and gap between demand and supply. There are a number of reasons related to the sourcing process as well. Recruiting has become a science and needs to go through a transformation. Recruiters need to learn to cope with the demand and supply in a globalized market of talents. Check out Avoiding Global Talent Acquisition Failure – Six Basics To Add to Your Recruiting Guideline. Language is still one of the main barriers to an influx of highly skilled migrants in Europe. Even though we launched the green card and blue card initiative we have not managed to attract the potential and talent needed within the EU for example in IT.

Health and Security Concerns Hinder Free Movement

Security concerns are growing in Global Mobility. Expats frequently face acts of terrorism, natural disasters, mugging and burglary as well as health issues. Check out Global TV Talk to gain perspective on this. While often the issues are normal in the local environment they can also be inflated disproportionately in our media. The images we have of countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan to name a few make it hard to convince families to work in these countries. Each terrorist act — in Istanbul, Jakarta, Tunis, Paris or Beirut will reduce the willingness of expat families to move into these cities even though expats probably have the best security support you can have in these locations.

Global Migration Challenges

Look back to 2015, the year global migration became pop culture. The term “refugee crisis” was coined in Europe. Even though we have had proportionately more refugees coming to Europe since the Arab spring started in 2011 in Tunisia, we all had more interaction with refugees since 2015. While I am personally concerned about the right-wing propaganda, I do understand that the intercultural and societal challenges of integrating refugees at least temporarily are considerable. – I am concerned about discriminatory practices in Recruiting and Global Mobility. In 2020, global migration faces another challenge in the form of the travel restrictions that have been imposed on the entire world by the highly infectious COVID-19. Many countries are not letting in any people, especially those on temporary visas (such as temporary work visas). Delays in paperwork processing due to shutdowns, mandatory quarantine periods and more means that a highly qualified international workforce has been robbed of all mobility.

All of this has led to Global Mobility being flawed, expats not able to go on international assignments anymore and overwhelmed GM Professionals who feel the pressure from all ends as they are in the firing line of assignees, business line, talent, HR and Finance managers. In addition to having been undervalued, overworked and squeezed by their interest groups, classical Global Mobilitytasks have been outsourced to Third-Party Service Providers and Shared Service Centers, or put on indefinite hold for those organizations that have stood down their employees and halted operations.

Working in Global Mobility used to be a career dead-end and a Sisyphian task. We roll up the stone assignee by assignee only to see it roll down again. We run KPI report after KPI report only to be told that no one knows what we are doing or who we are. We are often managed by HR Directors who don’t get us. We are online 24/7, involved in GM improvement projects, listen to depressed spouses in our evenings and do not get the promotion or salary we deserve.

But there is hope. I am not willing to give up. Yet.

We see the change in Global Mobility.

The more complex our global markets become, the more we need to reevaluate our assumptions of how we run Global Mobility

We need global leadership competency in our international talents and if they do not have it yet we need to send them out on long-term assignments earlier in their career. We should force expats to learn the local language and coach them through the Expat  Experience. Intercultural briefings are not enough anymore.

We need to ensure that there is a- Global Mobility Business Case showing assignment drivers and targets, expected gains or opportunities, assignment costs, and a repatriation plan. I explain this at length in “The Global Mobility Workbook (2019)” and my lectures.

We need to implement succession plans and add our current assignees as potential successors. We need to ensure that the knowledge, skills, and network they gain while on assignment is appropriately reflected in their following role and repatriation plan. We also need to ensure better handovers to their successors in the host location.

We need to upgrade the GM Profession- and the GM function needs to sit closer to business development and potentially move out of HR. We need to up-skill the case managers and train GM Professionals for a consultative approach where they can work as trusted partners with the business line managers.

We need to consider the Expat Family in the process more by providing spouse career support, elderly care and educational advisory. We also should offer 24/7 support to our expat families in crisis situations such as marital issues. A helpline to professional counsellors is needed.

What I believe in and what makes me get up in the morning:

  • I believe that Western managers of my generation and the baby boomer generation have to develop their relationship-building skills before becoming effective leaders of global teams. The performance of most global teams can only improve through higher global leadership competency following a holistic global competency model.
  • I believe that a great Expat Experience is linked to assignment targets, an international assignment business case and a repatriation plan and also to the Human Touch.
  • I believe that companies will focus more on creating succession plans and ensure that roles are filled in a more structured manner, handovers improved and teams will function more self-managed going forward. Leadership itself will change significantly.
  • I believe that GM Professionals have the potential to become critical players in the international growth of businesses post-crisis and are valued more as the subject matter experts that they are. They will move out of HR and be closer to business development.
  • I believe that assignees and spouses need to have a valuable intercultural experience and both can further their career and life vision together. Expat children need support in moving from one culture to another and even though they might be multilingual at the end of their school life, they have to cope with identity loss and loss of their roots.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

FlyMe! – Boost Your Global Mobility Career in 180 Days 

Globe and Covid19
The Smell of the Big, Wide World awaits you.

The Smell of The Big Wide World Where Adventure Awaits You

It’s Monday morning at 8 AM and instead of starting your laptop to go through another uninspired day of filling forms online and playing appointment bullshit bingo with your colleagues you look at the map of the world that is hanging in your home office. You have been home too long and you wish to smell the spices in a market in Amritsar, walk through the East village of New York City, sit in a rickshaw in Lahore or go on a hike in Northern Italy.

The big wide world, it’s never been so hard to get access to it. You are thinking about moving into the field of Global Mobility because this might at least give you the option to feel connected to the wider world than your home village.

You have experience in the relocation industry and you sometimes feel that you are not entirely clear on basic knowledge of Global Mobility which would help you to serve your clients better. Recently, you have considered that being a Subject Matter Expert in one area of Global Mobility might be a good career path for you but you are not yet sure which area you would enjoy most.

You have lived in your home village for most of your life and you would like to get a job that you can take to other countries. You would like to deepen your knowledge of other cultures and work in a global context where you speak English most of the time.

You Could Join us and Become a Global Mobility Specialist

If you would like to become a Global Mobility Specialist or deepen your knowledge, improve your skill set and build your professional network at the same time, this program is for you. FlyMe! helps you to understand the world of Global Mobility and even gives you insights into intercultural collaboration. Being part of the global network of the Expatise Academy™ we will not only help you technically, you can also book individual coaching sessions with Angie Weinberger in case you feel stuck or need advice from an industry Yoda. You will also have access to other industry experts and meet colleagues based in other countries than your home market.

FlyMe! Boost Your Career in Global Mobility in the next 180 days.

Angie Weinberger wrote the FlyMe! content which is essentially a digital version of the Global Mobility Workbook (2019). From us you will receive a weekly chapter with homework. In addition we give you 12 months access to our #RockMeApp. The #RockMeApp is an online platform for our clients where you define your career goals, learning targets and weekly practices. You are also invited to a weekly reflection exercise. Angie Weinberger reviews your input and will give you pointers on how to work on your Global Mobility career.

You can also buy coaching sessions with Angie Weinberger as per our Terms and Conditions.

FlyMe! is included in the Expatise Academys New Program for Relocation Professionals and GM Newbies. You will receive a EUR 200 discount if you sign up before 30 June 2020. You just have to mention “GPT” when you sign up.

https://www.expatise.academy/comprehensive-courses/hr-gm-for-relocation-professionals/

The regular tuition fee amounts to EUR 1’950 + VAT per participant.

 

The Full Program includes:

  • A 12-months license to the use of the online Global Mobility certification course © by Expatise Publishers with video and audio lessons, Q&A tests, topical libraries and peer communities.
  • A 12-months license to the use of the MemoTrainerApp © ANewSpring;
  • A digital copy of the Expatise Handbook for Global Mobility Professionals © by Expatise Publishers;
  • A 12-months license to the use of the FlyMe! program © by Angie Weinberger;
  • A 12-months license to the use of the RockMeApp © by Angie Weinberger;
  • A Certification and EC-registration,
  • The membership of the Expatise Alumni Network.

Additionally, the participant can opt for extension of this program with six one-hour live webinars with our lecturers for EUR 210 + VAT. VAT will be applied where appropriate. Expatise Academy will set up live webinars depending on demand.

Click here to sign up and for queries.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some HTML is allowed