Tips for relocating employees to international assignments
When moving an employee internationally, there are different types of assignments. Each with different expectations and different documents required.
Because of this, you’ll want to start by making sure you know the assignment type. For example, is it a long-term assignment where the employee would be moving for two years or longer along with his or her family? Or is it a short-term assignment where just the employee will be moving for a few months?
Each type of move has general guidelines for how the employee’s personal goods are handled, depending on the new location and the duration of the assignment. Be sure the employee has these guidelines and understands them.
It’s also important to let the employee know that this type of move could have tax implications, so they should contact their tax consultant for tax advice.
There are two types of International moves:
• One-Way International: This is a long term overseas assignment with no guarantee or deadline of the assignment end date. Goods may be moved via ocean freight and usually allow one small air shipment as well. Many policies place limitations on items to be shipped like appliances, cars and other items that cannot be used in the host country.
• Two-Way International: A short term overseas assignment is where the transferee (relocating employee) returns after the assignment is completed, typically less than two years. Goods are usually limited to a small air shipment with the remainder of items being placed into storage at the origin for the duration of their assignment.
Additional special considerations for international moves include:
• Preparing the family: It’s important to include the family in the process, acclimation and support. Tailor your research about the destination location and customize it to the relocating family. For example, videos of destination locations are available for dozens of countries and cities and can help introduce employees and their families to the new city and its culture.
• Cultural and emotional support: The new location can have significant cultural differences, from different food to expectations that women dress in certain ways. Employees and their families will benefit from information on these differences. Make every effort to entrench the family in the culture such as offering counseling and scheduling language training.
• Social media: Social media can help the employee and family with their relocation. Not only can it be a resource to learn about the destination, it can help to stay in touch with friends and family during and after the relocation.
• Repatriation programs: As important, or perhaps more important, is assisting your employee with repatriation. Upon the employee’s return, they need to be re-educated on what is different. This could include anything from technology changes, corporate policy updates, acquisitions and mergers. The employee will also benefit from counseling on what career paths are available upon their return.
By following these suggestions, you’ll reduce the anxiety employees and their families have about making relocating to a foreign country and help make your employees international relocation and transition much smoother.
If you need additional information, Suddath has resources and tools to help your employees and their families prepare for their international relocation and return home. Download our smartphone app for the iPhone or iPad for easy on-the-go reference. For additional information, contact a Suddath International move counselor today at (800) 874-3833.