A recent article in the New York Times highlighted how expatriations can be hindered by how well partners integrate to the new culture. As the number of expatriates around the world increases, the number of partners who fail to successfully adapt to the new culture multiplies. Many partners lack the appropriate spouse and family training and supportand are therefore often unprepared for their relocation. Difficulties finding a job abroad, creating new networks and adapting to life in the new country as a result can add a lot of pressure on the employee and their relationship with their partner, thereby jeopardising the whole expatriation.
Tell me about yourself
One of the first barriers that partners face is in finding a job which is a very important and often stressful step for the partner. Using a new language, creating a CV and cover letter and applying for roles in unfamiliar companies can be source of anxiety. Statistics show it is now increasingly complex for partners to find jobs successfully in the target culture. In 2006 the number of partners who were able to find a job in the new country decreased by about 10%. The lack of employment opportunities for partners can sometimes create anxiety about the expatriation which can put immense pressure on the success of the assignment.
Building a new web
Moving to a new culture means leaving behind a network of friends, family and co-workers. Without this support network, partners can sometimes feel alone in the new environment and struggle to create a new group of friends and contacts. Meeting new people and being able to socialise are both essential to the partner’s enjoyment and success of the expatriation as they can provide the support they require to manage culture shock and the adaptation process.
When in Rome…
Another factor that can hinder the success of expatriations is how well partners adapt to life in the new country and the many new cultural values and traditions. A lack of cultural awareness and understanding can lead to many misunderstandings and often culture shock which can have long-lasting effects if not anticipated and managed effectively. Spouse and family training and support can provide partners with the knowledge, skills and support they need to settle into life in the new country quickly and find success for the duration of the expatriation.
These challenges and others often leave partners and families feeling less motivated to go an expatriation. This in turn impacts the level of interest employees will show in international roles. As a result, many companies are finding it difficult to find employees who are not only qualified but also interested in going on an expatriation.
Showing employees that they and their family will receive partner and family training and support can encourage more interest in international roles. By providing expats with the appropriate training they will also be better prepared for the adjustment they will have to go through and they will be more likely to stay for the duration of the assignment. Reducing the chances of an early return can help companies increase their ROI on expatriations while it can also improve the family’s enjoyment of the whole experience.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011