When a company relocates an employee it is a huge financial commitment for them but for the employee it is also an emotional commitment. Typically they are leaving behind the security of their community, friends and colleagues with the expectation that this will be a positive experience personally and professionally. Employers need to look beyond the financial investment that they are making to see that by providing some emotional support to the incoming employee prior to arrival that they will be more likely to be satisfied with their decision to take the position and the odds of retention will increase, which ultimately makes the financial investment pay off.
1 – Even if the employee is with the same company that doesn’t mean that the work day will be the same, there are bound to be cultural differences that filter down to the workplace. Outline a typical work day, hours, lunches, holidays, provide an organizational chart and dress code so that the employee has comfort in knowing what to expect.
2 – Often employees are coming to the city or country for the first time; not only is the job new to them but often so is the language, culture, food and temperature. Provide community information, transit suggestions, weather details & clothing requirements.
3 – Respect their need to feel at home and maintain their culture. Provide them with cultural resources such as; specialty grocery stores, embassy information, ex-patriot groups, places of worship. Consider connecting them with an employee who has relocated from the same country to provide a first-hand experience.
4 – Make their arrival as smooth as possible and keep the confusion to a minimum. By providing them with accommodations that are easily accessible to the office you eliminate the complexity of immediately having to learn the roadways and driving rules. Also consider that the employees’ first impression of how they feel about the decision to accept the job is when they turn the key of their temporary accommodations. As a corporate housing provider we encourage employers to contact us ahead of time so that we can work together to ensure that the arriving guest has cultural comforts and any special needs. Consider placing a hand written note of welcome in their accommodations, it’s a simple gesture that goes a long way to the employee feeling supported.
5 - Provide support for cultural differences and an education in local manners and customs. As the world moves towards a global workforce it is vital that we understand and respect each others’ customs and traditions. Relocating to a new job from abroad is stressful enough without worrying about offending your new colleagues. For more information on Multicultural Manners: Pick up a copy of Essential Etiquette for the the 21st century
When developing your relocation policy and procedures consider what the end result is. Assuming it’s a happy, productive employee who completes their work term and sings their praises for the experience; then you’ll need to go beyond providing a per-diem.
By Jennifer Cross, Managing Partner