As an international head-hunter with many years' experience of sourcing candidates for roles outside their home country, I act as a middleman - working for the employer but also aware of the real reasons behind rejection of international placements. Many of these can be summed up in one phrase - fear of being "out of sight, out of mind".
While “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t only determined by distance (it's possible to feel isolated and out of touch in a satellite office in your home country) the effects of being thousands of miles away from HR decision making and disconnected from colleagues and line managers all play a considerable part.
Often of course, international placements can be wonderful opportunities for personal growth and professional development. But are these opportunities always fulfilled? Assignees report good employer engagement pre-move and often initially, post move. Many organisations have good on-boarding strategies and also provide services such as home and school search, which increase the feeling of connectedness. However, others indicate that communication falls away as the assignment progresses, often at the point where developmental gains are kicking in. That’s when valuable ex-pats can disengage. That’s how organisations lose talent.
Feedback indicates that challenges encountered on assignment have both a personal and professional impact, affecting even the most experienced serial relocator. Typically these are not communicated back to the employer. Unresolved difficulties can threaten employee wellbeing, performance, and ultimately, the success of the assignment. The employee may choose to leave resulting in disruption, losses and additional costs for the employer, including the need to recruit again.
Accompanying Partner Requirements.
Given the importance of the Accompanying Partner's experience in the success of international assignments, it is perhaps surprising that few employers choose to communicate effectively with this important group. Organisations that are really switched on to this are already supporting the family unit as a whole and effective Accompanying Partner support is a critical part of this approach.
The assignment experience can be enhanced by developing a channel of communication which ideally is external to the employer, using the coaching process to surface and resolve any concerns as they arise, as well as to support developmental gains. Organisations may not have the resources to deal with these complex, personal issues and there is evidence that individuals feel uncomfortable discussing personal challenges with their employer. That is when an independent coaching specialist can be of most use - able to surface and manage challenges, as well as support development – both ensuring the likelihood of success is increased.
A good relocation coaching programme will:
Value both the Assignee and their Partner’s views and experience
Establish an ongoing channel of communication and real dialogue
Inform of changes which may affect either party, both directly and indirectly
Update with company news, departmental restructures, mergers, take over’s - before the rumour mill fills in the gaps
Provide ongoing support for the challenges, personal and/or professional international relocation often brings.
Revisit career planning at regular intervals and support developmental gains for both Assignee and Accompanying Partner
After contracts are drawn up, tax regimes finalised, services arranged and visas organised, it’s important to bear in mind that at the heart of all this activity is a person, a couple or indeed a family, undertaking not a one-time event, but embarking on a life journey whose ramifications will be felt for years to come.
The cost of not getting it right is high, which means of course, that the value of ensuring communication and engagement remain on track is equally substantial.
Sustainable Prospects provides focused support for all involved in international assignments, working for businesses who want to manage the challenges of global mobility effectively as well as for their employees and accompanying partners, who each have a unique perspective and set of requirements from the assignment. Our objective is to ensure corporate risks are reduced, employees and their families settled and each assignment is a success. We act as a channel for better communication and connectedness, providing support on a one-to-one basis. We support all stages of the assignment for individuals inbound to the UK and outbound. We can assist both the employee and accompanying partner. We have a particular interest in the needs of the latter who often make considerable sacrifices to accommodate their partners’ career moves. Where possible, we leverage our professional network to support accompanying partners to maintain career momentum. For more information on our dual career programmes contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philippa Corr - Director
Philippa Corr is an executive recruiter and research specialist, with over 20 years executive search experience. She manages talent search assignments on behalf of organisations seeking out key professionals to meet critical resourcing requirements.
Philippa’s extensive experience of the recruitment process together with the network of international professional contacts she has built over a twenty year career, uniquely equip her to assist globally mobile spouses seeking new career opportunities. She understands how to raise their visibility to potential employers, advising which companies would suit their skills, values and aspirations. Philippa also has an extensive network of contacts and considerable cross-sector knowledge. Her experience extends throughout Europe and worldwide, across a broad range of industry verticals and functional areas. Her specialist focus is on environmental consulting and corporate sustainability.