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Checklist: 7 ways HR can ensure international assignment success

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With the rise of the global workforce and with international assignments becoming a norm, HR leaders and employers are constantly working to ensure successful assignment outcomes.

In making these successes a reality, there are many factors that come into play - medical support, training, security and more to be checked off a list from end to end.

To help tick off all the boxes on your list for a successful assignment, Aetna International has recently published its Employer's Guide to Successful International Assignments, with ways for HR and the mobility team to note. Human Resources has summarised this below:

#1 Conduct screenings on potential mobile assignees

Everyone copes differently in new settings and towards new challenges in international assignments. As such, the mobility team should first evaluate these employees' abilities to deal with the stress of being relocated. For instance, send them on short trips first to gauge how well they respond and how suitable they might be for long-term relocation.

Further, be sure to conduct background and reference checks; assess their language skills; evaluate their interpersonal skills, psychological state of mind, vocational skills, personality, and cultural fit.

#2 Carry out standard medical checks and mental health assessments

Medical screenings ensure that any chronic medical needs or medication requirements by employees are addressed early. This way, the mobility team will be able to determine whether the employee can be assigned overseas, and can take the necessary measures to arrange any medical referrals needed.

Further, don't forget to also assess the employee's mental health condition. If their families or partners are relocating with them, then these assessments should be conducted on them as well. In line with this, there should be a structured support framework, for instance addressing unique family needs.

Lastly, employees should also be assessed for their emotional well-being, physical state of health and attitude towards work-life balance, which will affect their quality of life. By doing so, it will help the team provide these employees with the right support material such as health advice.

#3 Provide proper training and support 

As some employees may not be familiar with the country they may be relocating to, HR and the mobility team plays a key role in thoroughly preparing them for what's ahead - in terms of the culture, political climate, a brief on the country's history, as well as what to expect of the social situation there. It will be good to provide them with a support network they can tap on, check in on them regularly.

Particularly for culture, an assignee's ability to adapt to a new culture is critical, as they will need to have a sense of belonging that would then motivate them to work productively there. Thus, cross-cultural training should be conducted, for both the employee and their family. Do encourage them to conduct their own research as well.

#4 Make safety and security a key responsibility

While aspects such as natural disasters or political instability are out of your control, you should still prepare employees as much as possible by providing training on safety and evacuation procedures, as well as constantly monitor the situation in the country.

To further support employees, especially those in high-risk areas, it will be good for them to have access to updated security reports. For instance, through any related applications in the country, or by subscribing them to regular SMS or email bulletin alerts and a travel assistance phone line.

#5 Ensure proper healthcare access 

When mobilising an employee, always ensure they have proper access to quality healthcare services wherever they are relocated. Familiarise them with how the healthcare system and policies work in the particular country, as well as the different types of insurance packages available to expats.

#6 Provide regular end-to-end care and check-ins

Regular staff appraisals are essential during mobile assignments, in ensuring the wellbeing of these employees remain good, and the continued success of the assignment. It will be good for the team to check in on these employees frequently, to provide them with further support with needed as well as access to support from the home country.

#7 Support employees in repatriation

When employees move back home, it is natural for them to feel disoriented, especially when the skills and abilities picked up in their country of assignment are a mismatch to their home country's. It could provide a culture shock, and lead to difficulties in fitting back in. In such instances, the company should provide support such as mentoring and repatriation training to these employees and their families.

Further, make the most out of what they have learnt through the mobility process - give them opportunities to mentor and support their colleagues who will be relocating.

ALSO READ: How to address the perceived inequality in expat vs local compensation

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