In the past year, many businesses have been struggling to keep afloat. Regardless of if you own an international company with many employees or manage a small enterprise with a few dedicated workers, almost everybody has felt the effects of Covid-19 sweeping through the global economy. Companies needed to adjust, be flexible, give in and hold on tight, all at the same time.
Relocating your employees might have always been in your future vision, but the ’forced’ flexibility of this year and the need to look for new opportunities might have given you the final push you needed to finally take the leap.
However, moving is already stressful, so how do you relocate your employees as smooth and beneficial as possible? We wrote down 10 common relocation struggles and how to avoid them.
Ok, you made up your mind and will relocate some of your employees to another country to expand your business. The logistics of moving employees are pricey and the more you need to move, the pricier it gets.
Packing up and shipping hardware, paperwork and furniture over can cost thousands. Make sure to have a realistic budget in place for unforeseen costs and support systems for your employees.
If you have ever moved to a new house, you know how stressful this can be. Now imagine moving to another country, with a new culture and maybe a new language. Perhaps your employee’s family is relocating too and needs to learn another language. Not always so easy!
Stress is the business world’s ‘Silent Killer’, according to Forbes Magazine. On average, stress costs a company in the US around 300 USD billion a year on health costs. Worse even, if your team members do not get better, stress causes around 40% on average of a company’s turnover, yikes. You would really want to keep your employees stress-free and happy, which will profit not just your valuable workers, but your business’ Return on Investment too.
Try offering your employees mental health support, meditations classes, free gym subscriptions or other happiness enhancing tools.
A big part of why relocation might not work out is because the family of your employee simply cannot get grounded in the new location. If your team member’s spouse or children are not happy, neither will your normally so enthusiastic and productive worker.
Take time supporting your employees finding schools for their children and offer them some leisure/social activities after work. Do you have an avid marathon runner on board? Help by finding them some running clubs in their new country they can join.
Get a reliable local relocation agent, somebody ‘on the floor’ (which can be online of course) who will help your employees settle in and help their families with the basics like opening a bank account, how to subscribe for children’s schools and where to go on an adventure in the new location on their weekends off.
Part of relocating is also fitting in. Your employees might suffer from feeling homesick in the beginning due to culture clashes with their new environment. Understanding the culture of each country is essential for all businesses, not just for your employees, but also for your clients. Find a local agent who can help with the property market, or how to sign up for children’s play groups.
A few of the most heard phrases of this year might be “sorry, I lost connectivity”, “I can’t hear you anymore, you dropped” or “your screen is frozen”. Being connected to your team members, clients and colleagues is more important than ever. While some people get immediately stressed over this (and we already know how much stressed employees cost a company) and others might just use these times as convenient coffee breaks.
Whatever way you look at it, connectivity is vital for any business. Check your new country’s data packages, internet connectivity and even electricity issues. A country like South Africa, for example, often has ‘load shedding’; where the government puts parts of the country without electricity for a few hours per day, to avoid the electricity network being overly exerted. No electricity, no Wi-Fi and no Wi-Fi means no work. So, make sure you have all the tools needed to keep business running as usual.
Love those Friday afternoons in your casual jeans with your colleagues? Ending off the week with a cold beer and some chats about something other than business? These are vital for any social structure at work. Having a social structure at work makes your employees happy and stress-free, keep these company social activities in place and have a video call which is not work related at least once a week.
Might this be a beer over Skype, or a morning coffee over Zoom, keeping the relationship relaxed and friendly might help to give your employee the reassurance he or she is taking this leap together with the company and not all alone.
Moving has all the unforeseen circumstances you never even thought of, be clear and honest in your communications with your employees about this. Is the shipping container with their furniture delayed?
Make sure they are informed timely and offer to help with alternative solutions for the interim. If you own up to delays or hurdles, there will be no miscommunication and you can manage everybody’s expectations in an honest way.
Check in regularly with your employees who have relocated. One big pitfall of moving countries is that people lose their support system from home not just during the move, but particularly after they have seemingly settled in.
Ideally you should have one ‘relocation mentor’ within your organisation, somebody who is the point of contact for any questions your employees might have.
Alternatively, if you relocate more than one employee, try and pair colleagues who are already friendly with each other, so they can support each other in their new work environment.
9. Help learning new languages
Find a good language school that fits your employee’s character and not just your employee’s, their family‘s too. Children learn languages entirely differently than adults do. Therefore, find teachers that can help learn the new language in a way that speaks to your employee’s family.
The more fun learning a language is, the quicker they will pick it up and feel at home in their new location. An international language school like BiCortex, specialized in in-company and online lessons for expatriates is your best choice for making the relocating of your employees a smooth and awesome ride.
Last but not least! Make your assignees take a Cross-Cultural Training 1-day or 2-days courses, by a well-known company such as BiCortex, to improve their efficiency in the new country from the first day of work, by avoiding communication mistakes due to the difference of cultures.