Expatriation Assignment

1 January 2017

According to an article in Expat Exchange, “fewer than 50% of employees remain with their companies following repatriation, with assignment failure, including family concerns and low satisfaction levels among the expatriate’s partner or ‘trailing spouse,’ being primary causes,” (Anber, 2007 ). Furthermore, there are major financial burdens with expatriate insurance, delivery of necessary products and services, transportation, international travel, etc. What are some of the capabilities that other expatriates believe contribute to success and failure in overseas assignments?

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Expatriates believe that language skills, work permits, and professional network have a lot to do with the success or failure of an assignment. Language barriers are difficult in any situation, but they can be particularly frustrating and stressful for the expatriate if he/she is not fluent in the main language of the country. Work permits are handled through the organization most often, but they are difficult to obtain and each country has different visa laws, all of which can make or break the expatriate experience.

Expatriates are also looking for an acceptable place to work and network. Almost everyone has the ability to network locally and even nationally, but many of us have never and will never build relationships and network abroad. As the world becomes more interconnected, the issue of international networking is becoming less and less of an issue, however, it is difficult to communicate outside of your home country. What have been some of the key issues for successful expatriation of families?

Expatriation families face many challenges when moving overseas. Language barriers are a big issue for both the expatriate and his/her family. When you live in a country where the language is not the preferred language of the expatriate and their family, it causes many challenging experiences and is stressful (Fitzgerald, 2012). Other challenges include cultural changes, education, region, trends, behaviors, and all of the things that drive the people in the country the expatriate’s family are moving.

It could be very difficult for a non-working spouse or the expatriate’s children to adapt to the new environment and the new people. The expatriate will be spending enough time at work, likely with other men/women in the same position, so the expatriate’s difficulty with the social and cultural aspects of the move may not be as significant as the rest of his/her family. Other ways that firms can help is to make sure the expatriate and their family understands exactly how the entire process works and providing them with training and other learning opportunities to prepare for the move.

Things to take into consideration for the firm to help with the process is to disclose how the expatriate will get to the foreign country, their Visa type, additional application costs, visiting expenses, shipping costs, property costs, cars, bills, utilities, flights home, etc. * What information would you want from the firm before accepting a foreign assignment? Before accepting a foreign assignment, I would want to negotiate a very specific assignment contract and make sure that everything is settled in advance.

Major things that need to be considered to make the repatriation process successful, is the duration of the assignment, the assigned capacity, salary, tax liability, social security, moving costs, housing and short term housing allowance, transportation, tuition fees for international schooling, annual leave and home leave, and legislation (Heuser, 2004). It is important that the contract includes a trial period length, a minimum assignment term, a specific description, and a salary that will compensate for the challenges of the move and cost of living for the place of relocation.

Furthermore, it is important to understand and negotiate taxes and what country liability will be assumed. The organization must provide social security, moving reimbursement, housing allowances, transportation, and any other costs incurred because of the relocation. How can firms help with the repatriation process? I think there are a number of things that firms can do to help out with the repatriation process. According to an article on Expat Repat Services website, “research indicates one in four (25%) of the employees who complete their expatriate assignment successfully will leave the company following repatriation,” (E, 2006).

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