Singapore - Singapore-based expatriates are feeling the effects of the economic gloom too, and it is important that HR manages their job expectations during this period.
General manager of ECA International Asia, Lee Quane, says it would be unlikely for companies to extend international assignments in the present climate due to budget cuts unless it is absolutely essential. However, Karen Gosling, counselling director for Gosling International warns that terminating the assignee's contract may cause unnecessary tension between employer and expatriate if no prior job expectations were set.
This is why HR should always manage their expatriates' expectations before the start of any international assignments and not drop the bomb nearing the end of the contract. Citing her expat client whose husband's contract is not up for renewal due to the crisis, Gosling says this expat lost his ability to think rationally due to anger. "He wants to stay here so he became vindictive and angry about how the company doesn't want him."
To avoid employee resentment, Gosling says, "Tell them the contracts have a limited time. This helps ensure people it is not personal and lessens the stress for them [when their contracts are not being renewed]."
Before reducing the number of expatriate staff to cope with budget cuts, there is another cost-cutting approach companies can look at. As "some senior management positions will always be filled by expatriate staff", Quane says HR can start by scaling back certain benefits in the packages offered to expatriate employees first.
As for expatriates who are worried about their job uncertainties during the recession, Gosling says avoid any negative thinking about the job future as that would create a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Stay grounded, don't take anything personally and think positively to break out of that negative cycle."