The majority of organisations acknowledge that taking an overseas assignment is good for an employee’s career prospects. And to make this transition easier, the logistical details are usually handled extremely efficiently – from moving belongings and finding a home, to settling children into schools.
However, from conversations with my coaching clients (who have come to London or moved to Bermuda), with recruiters and with relocation specialists, it is apparent that ex-pats and their families get very little emotional support.
Moving abroad is widely recognised as being one of the most stress-inducing experiences a person can face. Saying goodbye to people and places we know and love, the work involved in selling up and moving, adjusting routines, fitting in to somewhere new: all these factors can pile up to create a perfect storm of overwhelming stress and pressure.
An employer’s responsibility doesn’t end with taking care of the financial and logistical side of things for their new hire. There is a lot more that can be done, both before the employee gets on the plane and long after they have arrived – relocation coaching!
Beginning before the move and continuing into the settling period, relocation coaching mentally prepares your employee for the change and the potential challenges:
- Culture shock – different languages, etiquette and customs can be confusing
- Homesickness – leaving family and friends is harder than we like to admit
- Lack of support network – cultivating new friendships can be tricky when we are also settling into a new role – we often have to hit the ground running
- Disruption to routine – we can lose our sense of self when we can’t do the things we are used to doing.
Effective relocation coaching also gives attention to important wins for the first 100 days in the role, including building influence and profile, hence getting the best out of your employee as they settle into life in the new location. As someone external to the hiring firm, and impartial too, the coach provides a space where the employee can:
- speak confidentially and openly to work out solutions to challenges at work
- develop new skills sets – such as Cultural Intelligence – to adapt to a new environment
- draw out the positives in their experience
- deal with the challenges they face and communicate openly with their partner and family so everyone feels supported.
Having this additional support makes the transition much more successful.
Also in need of acknowledgement is the partner – the sacrifice made by a partner is too often overlooked – especially when they are giving up a career to move to a place where they might not be able to work. Many relocations have been derailed because inadequate attention has been given to the happiness of the whole family unit.
It is important to arm your employee and their family, so that they can move with confidence.