Thanks to, among other things, the internet and globalization, organizations are not limited to operating locally. They can stretch their reach over vast geographical regions.
For this reason, an increasing number of companies in the US are sending their employees on international assignments to work as expatriates.
Not only is this a huge financial investment, it also requires a lot in the way of planning and expatriate training to improve the chances of expats’ success.
Recruitment of expats is a meticulous, drawn-out process that involves providing prospective expats with intercultural training so that they’re ready to integrate into the new environment.
Expatriate training programs mitigate the numerous challenges of expat life
Many challenges come with living and working in another country. However, many of these challenges can be mitigated by taking your employees and their families through a formal expatriate training program before they relocate to the new country.
Expatriate training programs expedite the transition process by cultivating your employees’ cultural sensitivity and equipping them and their families with the tools, skills and knowledge required to effectively interact with people from other cultures.
Among the primary goals of an expatriate training program is to acclimatize your employees to the new living and working environment and assist them in quickly adjusting a culture that they are not familiar with.
Research has demonstrated that the quicker an expat is at adapting to the norms and culture in the new country, the more likely they are to succeed in their international assignment.
By taking the expat and their family through a formal expatriate training program, they’re better able to reshape their behaviors and lifestyle to match the reality of their new situation.
The converse is also true: Failure to provide an expat and their family with the knowledge and skills needed to quickly fit in the new milieu invariably results in failure of the international assignment and the premature repatriation of the employee. This can be unnecessarily costly to your business.
Choosing the right expatriate training program for your employees
When seeking a formal expatriate training program for your employees, it is imperative that you choose an institution that has a stellar reputation and has been in operation for many years. Such a program is most likely to have trainers who are experienced enough to be familiar with the unique challenges of relocating to the country you’re employee is relocating to.
As a general rule, give preference to institutions that offer expatriate training programs that are modeled on, among other important tenets, three crucial areas:
- Knowledge &
In the course of intercultural training, the self-awareness of participants increases as they are exposed to important knowledge and helped to work on developing themselves as individuals.
The three key areas of competence mentioned above guide the program trainers toward achieving the desired outcomes of the expatriate training programs: enabling your expats to make the cultural shift as seamlessly as possible.
Benefits of providing expatriate training to your employees before relocating them
It is a well-known fact that providing your employees and their families with intercultural training before relocating strongly correlates with good performance once the employee settles into the new environment.
Expatriate training enables your employees to:
- Understand how their new culture factors into both their social and business relationships.
- Acquire essential information about the host country.
- Nurture the skills needed to adjust to their new living and working environment.
Furthermore, studies has demonstrated that the difference between a successful and a failed overseas assignment can be offering expatriate training. Among the main reasons for the failure of expats is lack of adaptability, which can be fostered through formal intercultural training.
Interesting to note is that some studies have shown that US expatriates sent on assignments to the UK exhibited the highest failure rates, partly as a result of the expectations that were highly inaccurate.
The fact that people living in the UK and the US both spoke English as their native language doesn’t mean that the cultures in these two countries are identical to or even necessarily compatible with each other. Expatriate training even for countries that share a language is imperative when preparing your employee and their family for relocation.
Expatriate training benefits both your business and your employees
Organizations with successful expatriate programs all take their prospective expats and their families through a formal expatriate training program to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and awareness needed to integrate into the new living and working environment as quickly and easily as possible.
In the end, this not only protects your organization’s investment in your expats but it also ensures that your expats and their families have a meaningful life in the new country.