Archivos de la categoría expatriates

DESIGNING GLOBAL MOBILITY ASSIGNMENTS FOR YOUNGER WORKERS

How can HR departments adapt their global mobility strategies to make such assignments more attractive to Gen Y?

A recent PwC report, Talent Mobility: 2020 and Beyond, stated that multinational companies are facing talent shortages and skills gaps because younger people don’t want to work in emerging economies such as India and China.
So how can HR departments adapt their global mobility strategies to make such assignments more attractive to Gen Y and millennials entering the workforce, and resolve the startling mismatch between where companies want to expand and where staff want to be located?
HR magazine asked two industry experts for their views. Today, Carol Stubbings, UK international assignment services leaders, PWC, gives her view.
“For the millennial generation, the prospect of a global assignment as part of their job is an exciting one. More than two-thirds (71%) of this generation want to spend some of their career working abroad. This should be music to employers’ ears as they want a flexible workforce that can adapt to changing business needs, but the sticking point is location. Graduates and employers have very different views.
The usual suspects of the US and Australia remain at the top of millennials’ wish lists, while the rapidly growing countries where employers often need to plug skills gaps are at the bottom. Only 11% of those questioned for our report said they would accept an assignment in India, and a mere 2% in mainland China – the same proportion as for Iran.
The attraction of these countries for companies far outstrips the attraction for staff. So how do they resolve this mismatch? Generous pay was often used in the past to lure employees to less glamorous locations, but companies are increasingly looking at different forms of motivation to encourage international mobility.
Accentuating the career development prospects of an assignment in a fast-developing country can be a successful tactic. More organisations now see international mobility as a must-have for leadership positions, and people who are prepared to go to developing markets and make a success of those secondments will often be rewarded.
Companies need to become better at selling these opportunities to their employees and highlighting the aspects or outcomes that appeal to them. And even when career development is seen as enough of an incentive, care must be taken before any assignment to ensure all the core things such as accommodation, schooling and healthcare are set up.

Who knows, it might not be too long before China is topping graduates’ wish list of locations.”

CHARACTERISTICS OF A SUCCESSFUL EXPATRIATE

Pucik and Saba (1998) define expatriate managers as “an executive who is able to assume a leadership position fulfilling international assignments across countries and cultures.”

Yet most companies choose expats based on technical / managerial performance alone. Past behavior may be the best indicator for future behavior when it comes to psychology, but as soon as you cross borders; your usual behavior will yield very unusual results.

Expat leaders have to be culturally aware and open to adapting their style in order to be successful.

Rothwell (1992) defines six characteristics all successful leaders expatriates possess. He defines:

1. “International knowledge
As “general knowledge about the world and global economy; national information about conditions in a specific country; and business understanding of strategy, process, and leadership style.”

Black and Gregersen (1999) found in their research that companies differ in how they assess candidates, while looking for the following characteristics:

2. “A drive to communicate,”
Which includes not being afraid to use rudimentary foreign language skills and being embarrassed?

3. Abroad-based sociability,
Which allows expatriates to move out of close expatriate circles and form ties with all kinds of locals?

4. “Cultural Flexibility” and Cosmopolitan Orientation,
Which both describe the open mind an expatriate needs to have when experimenting with different cultures, understanding and practicing them. 

The final characteristic is:

6. The “collaborative negotiation style.”
Expatriates need to be aware of the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of international negotiation. For example, people coming from a low context culture like the Germans and Scandinavians appreciate explicit and clear forms of communication, whereas high context cultures, like Spain, divulge less information officially, but tend to be better informed than their counterparts anyway due to informal networks (Leeds, 1994).

These findings were publicized over 10 years ago.

– How does your company choose international assignees?
– Which training programs are in place to allow potential candidates to bridge the gap and obtain necessary qualifications?

GLOBAL MOBILITY: WHAT TALENT IS MOVING AROUND THE WORLD?

Below you can see a interesting infographic made by Mercer Think about who is taking an international assignments and why.
Global Mobility is gonna be the main important challenge for HR during the rest of the century, so I would like to highlight the words of Anne Rossier-Renaud -Principal in Mercer’s global mobility business- whom said “Many companies do not have a clear selection process that would include assessing an employee’s suitability for an international assignment, whether at initial recruitment or upon assignment opportunity. Then, when qualified candidates are found, employers need to address potential obstacles to mobility, such as dual career and family issues, which may prevent candidates from accepting an international assignment”.
We have a long way to learn.


SUPPORTING EXPAT SPOUSES

Expat spouses often find themselves having to choose between a rock and a hard place. Moving every few years, relocating your sense of self and establishing new social circles are great fun and fantastic adventures if you have an outgoing, curious and flexible personality. If you’re looking for stability on the other hand, your patience will be tested.

When it comes down to it, are you prepared to choose between your relationship and your livelihood?

Although they are still in the majority, there are far fewer married international assignees than in the past. Given that the re-emergence of optimism in some segments of the economy is widely divergent and cautious at best, the desire of many families to preserve their two-income status is likely a strong factor in this result. In this year’s report, the percentage of international assignees that are married was 60%, the lowest in the last four years of the survey, and a full 7% under the historical average (67%). Furthermore, this year’s percentage is down 8% from last year’s report (68%) and 14% from the survey high of 74% that was reported 12 years ago. As economic realities continue to remain in flux for many employees with families, it is possible that companies’ current international assignment programs are not adequately meeting the needs of employees with spouses, causing them to decline international assignment opportunities. In any case, the identification of this as a longer term trend affords companies the opportunity to ensure their policies and benefits are aligned to meet the changing profiles of their assignees.

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it’s a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion.

He really wants and needs to go, but he will turn it down if you’re not on board.
Great! You’re involved in the decision!

Now let’s see: you have a great life, your family and friends live nearby, your parents are getting up there in age, you’ve a fantastic job, your kids adore their school, you love your house – and you love your spouse, too.

If you decide not to give up what you have, will he eventually resent you for it?
Probably right around the time that other guy gets the promotion.

If you decide to support him and move, effectively giving up your life as you know it, to a place where you cannot read grocery labels, your hairdresser doesn’t understand you wanted blond not red highlights, and the culture is completely alien, will you resent him for it?

Not unlikely. Hell, your marriage may fall apart altogether.

Still, the chances of you going abroad are a lot higher in this scenario than they would be if we swapped pronouns:

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it’s a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion.

SHE really wants and needs to go, but SHE will turn it down if you’re not on board.
As it is, 80 % of expats are men, and only 20 % are women. Brookfield’s data does not go into marital status detail by gender, or at least I haven’t heard back from them about it. So the reality is, more often than not it’s women who have to decide between love and their own careers.

Going back to yesterday’s happiness formula, I recommend adopting a positive attitude. If you decide to go abroad, find ways to fill your days with things you love but never had the chance to pursue. Do your best to be prepared for as much as you can prepare yourself for, and maintain open and honest communication throughout the process. Your partner needs to hear how you feel so you can effectively support each other.

Preparing for an international assignment comes in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes a bit of a Google search is sufficient, many times all out language classes are appropriate. I always recommend cross-cultural trainings – even and especially if you’re moving to countries with the same language. And there may also be circumstances that warrant continuous coaching support.

The good news is, your decision doesn’t have to be “either relationship, or career”. International experiences can lead to a broader range of (marketable!) skills and competencies for everyone involved. They can strengthen a family bond, and you’ll create memories ranging from anecdotes to moments of profound shifts in your being.

Who are the new expatriates?

Multinational companies are sending more and more employees abroad: in the interests of international development of course, but also to prepare their managers for positions of responsibility.
The effects of September 11th on international mobility were short-lived. The caution exercised by the big multinationals in the wave of extreme security-consciousness that followed has gradually eased and international missions are once again going ahead. The latest bi-annual review on the subject by ECA International, an organisation dedicated to expatriation professionals, confirms this. More than 70% of the companies questioned had “initiated more long-term postings abroad over the last two years and more than two thirds of them plan increases in the years to come,” according to the study. This boom can obviously be explained by the globalisation of business and by the increase in relocation. But if mobility is on the up, the forms it takes are changing. “With the opening up of the Chinese, Indian, Russian, Eastern Europe and South-east Asian markets, the big European and American companies have been encouraged to open a large number of sales offices, branches, subsidiaries and production units abroad,” says Frédéric Franchi, the organisation’s spokesman. It is a trend that is changing the nature of expatriation. “Ten years ago, companies cited skills and technical knowledge transfers as the main reason their employees were posted abroad. Today, on account of the new direction their development is taking, it is the need to control local operations that predominates,” explains Frédéric Franchi.Expatriation is no longer the preserve of western companies. Many Asian or Middle Eastern companies are also stepping onto the international stage. ECA’s study states, moreover, that “the boom in expatriation is mainly expected in Asia, which now rivals Europe and the United States as the main region to expatriate employees and also to receive expatriate employees”. It is no longer the preserve of western employees either. Most of the human resources Departments of the multinationals are now managing expatriates of different nationalities.“Companies have opened up so completely to the world that it is not rare for them to have expatriates of 20 to 25 different nationalities,” says Frédéric Franchi.
More women on the moveInternational mobility also involves an increasing number of women. Although women represented only 6% of expatriates in 1996, 20% of them now undertake missions abroad. Over and above increased general awareness of the need to give women a more important role in society, various factors may also explain this significant trend. Firstly, the opening up of expatriation to new business sectors. Although it traditionally concerned mainly industry, services are no longer left on the sidelines. And in addition, engineering schools, which provide a high proportion of expatriate staff, now also have a higher percentage of women. Lastly, expatriation is now considered in most of the big companies to be an indispensable stage in the development of a career. “More and more companies insist their executives experience expatriation,” says Frédéric Franchi. If they wish to offer certain women the chance to occupy posts of responsibility they must also be prepared to expatriate them.Be that as it may, curbs on the expatriation of women remain, mainly because of their role within the family. It is, moreover, partly to solve this problem that companies are increasingly developing “international commuting,” an attenuated form of expatriation. On the other hand, the ECA study also reveals the weaknesses of companies in the expatriation process. 75% of them do not assess non-technical criteria such as the ability to learn a foreign language, for example, in their recruitment process, and only 10% of them take account of the spouse. Yet as ECA reminds us, problems family problems figure amongst the principal factors mentioned when expatriation fails.

Who are the new expatriates?

Multinational companies are sending more and more employees abroad: in the interests of international development of course, but also to prepare their managers for positions of responsibility.
The effects of September 11th on international mobility were short-lived. The caution exercised by the big multinationals in the wave of extreme security-consciousness that followed has gradually eased and international missions are once again going ahead. The latest bi-annual review on the subject by ECA International, an organisation dedicated to expatriation professionals, confirms this. More than 70% of the companies questioned had “initiated more long-term postings abroad over the last two years and more than two thirds of them plan increases in the years to come,” according to the study. This boom can obviously be explained by the globalisation of business and by the increase in relocation. But if mobility is on the up, the forms it takes are changing. “With the opening up of the Chinese, Indian, Russian, Eastern Europe and South-east Asian markets, the big European and American companies have been encouraged to open a large number of sales offices, branches, subsidiaries and production units abroad,” says Frédéric Franchi, the organisation’s spokesman. It is a trend that is changing the nature of expatriation. “Ten years ago, companies cited skills and technical knowledge transfers as the main reason their employees were posted abroad. Today, on account of the new direction their development is taking, it is the need to control local operations that predominates,” explains Frédéric Franchi.Expatriation is no longer the preserve of western companies. Many Asian or Middle Eastern companies are also stepping onto the international stage. ECA’s study states, moreover, that “the boom in expatriation is mainly expected in Asia, which now rivals Europe and the United States as the main region to expatriate employees and also to receive expatriate employees”. It is no longer the preserve of western employees either. Most of the human resources Departments of the multinationals are now managing expatriates of different nationalities.“Companies have opened up so completely to the world that it is not rare for them to have expatriates of 20 to 25 different nationalities,” says Frédéric Franchi.
More women on the moveInternational mobility also involves an increasing number of women. Although women represented only 6% of expatriates in 1996, 20% of them now undertake missions abroad. Over and above increased general awareness of the need to give women a more important role in society, various factors may also explain this significant trend. Firstly, the opening up of expatriation to new business sectors. Although it traditionally concerned mainly industry, services are no longer left on the sidelines. And in addition, engineering schools, which provide a high proportion of expatriate staff, now also have a higher percentage of women. Lastly, expatriation is now considered in most of the big companies to be an indispensable stage in the development of a career. “More and more companies insist their executives experience expatriation,” says Frédéric Franchi. If they wish to offer certain women the chance to occupy posts of responsibility they must also be prepared to expatriate them.Be that as it may, curbs on the expatriation of women remain, mainly because of their role within the family. It is, moreover, partly to solve this problem that companies are increasingly developing “international commuting,” an attenuated form of expatriation. On the other hand, the ECA study also reveals the weaknesses of companies in the expatriation process. 75% of them do not assess non-technical criteria such as the ability to learn a foreign language, for example, in their recruitment process, and only 10% of them take account of the spouse. Yet as ECA reminds us, problems family problems figure amongst the principal factors mentioned when expatriation fails.