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Employee Relocation: Tips for an Overseas Move

27th Feb 2017
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Many businesses make the decision to move members of their workforce internally, rather than hire new staff. The benefits are obvious: reduced training costs, assurances that the worker is skilled and experienced, previous examples of loyalty and dedication; the list is long and music to the ears of HR.

However, internal relocation has its disadvantages, too. The responsibility of moving and settling the employee almost always falls on the shoulders of HR. Domestically, this can be challenging, but if the move is international, the implications can be far more daunting.

If you’ve been handed the task of relocating an employee overseas, here are some tips to help you manage the project.

Establish Terms of the Relocation

In order to effectively manage and arrange a relocation project, you need to know exactly what the terms of relocation are. This includes:

  • Which country are they moving to?
  • How long is the relocation assignment?
  • Are they bringing family members?
  • What expat benefits will they receive?
  • Does it change the terms of their employee contract?
  • What costs will the employee be responsible for?
  • What happens after the assignment is over?

Once you establish the terms of an employee move, you have the foundations from which you can build a successful project. Uncertainty in any area of relocation terms will likely result in problems or mistakes.

Outlay a Relocation Plan

Planning and logistics are key to international relocation success. With such complexities as arranging the administrative tasks and physically moving persons and property abroad, it is essential to have a plan available at all times as a point of reference.

Having a plan also ensures you don’t miss anything, be it a deadline for an immigration application or a phone call to arrange an energy supplier for the employee's new flat.

The recommended method of making a relocation plan is via both a timeline method and a checklist. Create an outline of your deadlines between now and the scheduled date of relocation. Then, create a checklist that runs parallel to your timeline, giving points assigned dates within the timeline. This ensures you spread out important tasks, giving appropriate time to each one, and also that they are started and completed within an acceptable timeframe. International removal companies can be helpful in creating and establishing a plan, thanks to their specialist experience.

Work With The Employee’s New Office

You aren’t just moving an employee overseas; you are inducting them into a new office or workplace. This workplace probably has other employees operating within it already, which means that their new addition will have to be slotted into the current dynamic.

Failure to communicate with this workplace is guaranteed to create issues; not only with logistics, but also with employee adjustment, both for the employee and the workforce they are moving into.

Create a clear line of communication with the workplace in question. Take on any questions or concerns they have and keep them updated with information about deadlines and timelines. They may also be necessary for completing tasks required to facilitate the move, especially in later stages, so maintaining strong channels of communication will be very valuable in this respect.

Arrange Any Benefits Offered as Part of the Relocation Early On

Some businesses offer very little in the way of benefits to employees that relocate internationally, while others provide ample support. This might include a car lease, a house, private education for youngsters or even a living allowance.

If these benefits were promised as part of the move, ensure preparations are made early on to guarantee their availability at the time of relocation. Some of these elements can take a long time to set up, and as the relocation date approaches, the employee will become less and less available to discuss details.

Secure Immigration

Perhaps the most complex process of moving an employee, above even finding them a house and arranging the movement of possessions, is securing their immigration rights.

Often, a business relocating a member of staff has already established themselves in the nation they are moving said employee, which makes things easier. However, this is not always the case, so it is not always a guarantee of smooth immigration proceedings, either.

Processing an application for permanent, working rights can easily absorb months and requires a heavy amount input from HR and the employee. Failure to invest the proper time and energy into such an application can result in errors being made and potentially having it fall through.

Leave ample time to secure the right type of immigration required and be sure to secure it as soon as possible.

Discuss the Personal Aspects of the Project

A move abroad for work is far from being all about business. The person involved in the assignment is moving their entire life, too. This isn’t always a big deal. Single workers on short-term assignments rarely need much in the way of personal support. However, once you move into the region of long-term assignments and additional family members become involved, you need to be sure you are offering the right support.

The best way to do this is through an open-door policy. Get the employee — and their family if desired — to chat with HR about what their needs and concerns are and how you can help support those needs. Employees that can’t settle into their assignment are far more likely to perform badly and give up early. But offering personal support, you can improve the likelihood of them completing the assignment — and completing it well.

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