The success of an international assignment often rests on how well the expatriate partner integrates into the new culture and way of life. As the number of expatriates increases, there is a growing concern that not enough is being done to support expatriate partners – both female and male – to avoid a failed assignment and a costly return.
Expatriate Partners face the challenge of starting from scratch
One of the first barriers that partners face is in finding a job which is a very important and often stressful step
Difficulties finding a job, creating new networks and adapting to life in the new country can add a lot of pressure to the relationship and add pressure on the assignee – potentially jeopardising the whole expatriation.
One of the first barriers that expatriate partners face is in finding a job which is a very important and often stressful step. It can be a real source of anxiety for the following reasons:
- Operating in a new language
- Applying for a job and navigating how to create a CV which appeals to a new audience
- Translating skills learned at home to a new country
Surveys show expatriate partners have difficulty finding employment
Recent surveys showed that expartiate partners who were able to find a job in the new country decreased by about 10%
Statistics show it is now increasingly complex for partners to find jobs successfully in their new country. The lack of employment opportunities for expatriate partners often creates anxiety and can put immense pressure on the success of the assignment
What about culture shock?
The graph below highlights the journey that international assignees and expatriate partners alike go through. Everyone will experience culture shock to one extent or another. The real question is to know how to recognise it and deal with the symptoms. Here is some great advice that explains a bit more about what culture shock is and how to deal with it.
Building a new Network
Meeting new people and being able to socialise are both essential to the partner’s enjoyment and the success of the expatriation assignment
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.
Understand the context of your new country
A lack of cultural awareness and understanding can lead to many misunderstandings and often culture shock
Another factor that can hinder the success of an international assignment is how well expatriate 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.
Address the lack of motivation
Demotivated expatriate partners will naturally impact the level of interest employees will show in international roles
These challenges and others often leave partners and families feeling less motivated to go an assignment. 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.
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
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.