By Globalization Partners
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When planning for international growth, your company wants to bring on the best and brightest employees. While you might find those employees in the new country, in some cases, it makes sense to move your current top-performing team members to the new location of your company. Other times, you might want to bring on employees with a lot of promise, but they currently live abroad.
Many people are willing to move for a job. In many cases, the promise of better pay, potential career advancement, and better cost of living influence employees’ decisions to move. If your company is considering staff relocation, there are some best practices to follow when relocating employees.
How does global talent mobility help you attract and manage talent?
Depending on your company’s current location and where you would like to open new offices, there may or may not be talented individuals waiting to fill vacant positions. Expanding the size of your search area or letting current employees transfer from one location to another allows you to attract new talent and makes it more likely that you’ll find the right people to fill roles. If you offer talented candidates job relocation assistance, such as a stipend to cover moving expenses or assistance finding a place to live, candidates are going to be more likely to consider applying for a job with you.
Developing a staff relocation plan can also help your company retain employees after hiring them. For example, employees might need to move because of family or personal issues. If your company has an office near where these employees are headed, they can switch locations rather than quit and find a new job.
Global mobility can also allow your team members to grow and move up the career ladder. For instance, you might have employees ready to take on management positions or who should be promoted before they leave the company in search of better opportunities. Your company might not have openings available at the office that employs them. However, if you have management positions available in a newly opened international office, they might decide to take those positions since they allow them to grow and challenge themselves without having to apply for new jobs.
Location matters when trying to attract new talent or retain existing employees. If you’re going to open a new office abroad, it should be in an area that people would want to move to. Some factors that make an area attractive include having many amenities, a low cost of living, and a thriving social scene.
What’s in a typical international relocation package?
Some employees might dream of moving abroad to work for a company, while others need a certain amount of convincing or incentives to make the move more appealing. Employers who want to send team members to international locations often offer relocation packages that help cover expenses and assist the employees and their families once they’ve made the move. Some examples of job relocation assistance a company might offer include:
- Visa and work permit assistance: Employees moving to an international location for work will likely need to get a work permit and a visa that allows them to work in the new country. Since the visa process can be complex, many employees aren’t likely to want to manage it on their own. Your company can offer visa advisory services or even handle all of the steps involved in getting employees the right permits and visas before their move.
- Reimbursement of moving expenses: Moving can be expensive, especially if employees are taking furniture and other personal belongings to the new country. Even if they leave most of their belongings in their home country, they’ll have to pay to pack them up and store them. Companies typically offer to reimburse employees for moving expenses up to a certain amount. The size of the compensation can depend on the distance of the move and how long the assignment will last.
- Housing search assistance: Transferred employees will need a place to live in their new country. Since finding international housing can be tricky, many companies include housing assistance in their relocation packages. Housing assistance can take several forms. Your company might find apartments for your employees to stay in temporarily and connect them with rental or real estate agents once they arrive. Or, your company might pay for employees to travel to the country before they move to work with an agent and find a home.
- School search assistance: If your employees have children, their relocation package can include education assistance. That assistance can take the form of helping families find the right schools for their children. In some cases, an employer might provide a stipend to cover some or all of the children’s educational costs. For example, if an English-speaking employee moves to a country where people speak a different language, an employer might cover the cost of tuition at an international, English-language school.
- Setting-in assistance: Moving to a new location means finding new places to run errands and take care of all of life’s little necessities. A company might help its relocated employees settle in by providing them with lists of local supermarkets, physician’s offices, and banks. The company might help employees set up utilities and find the nearest post office.
- Language assistance: Even if employees are already relatively fluent in the language spoken in the new country, they can often benefit from language lessons to boost their speaking skills and oral comprehension. A company might include reimbursement for the cost of a certain number of language lessons in the relocation package or offer language instruction directly to employees.
- Reimbursement of transportation expenses: Depending on the location of the home country and the new country, employees might need to take an airplane to get there. The company can cover the cost of the flight and other transportation-related expenses. In some cases, a company might handle making the travel reservations on its own to get the best price available.
- Benefits: An international relocation package might offer employees more benefits than they would receive in their home country, depending on the laws of the destination country. For example, the benefits package might include health or dental insurance that covers employees while they are abroad. They might also have more paid time off while working at the international location.
- Cost of living allowance: Some relocation packages add a cost of living allowance to help employees afford more expensive areas. The cost of living allowance is usually determined based on the cost of the new location compared to the area employees move from.
Checklist for managing the employee relocation process
As your company starts the process of transferring employees to international offices, the following checklist can help everything operate smoothly:
- Focus on business goals: The first thing to do when relocating employees is to determine how moving certain employees to new locations will help your company reach its goals. Perhaps you’re entering a new market, and the employees you’re transferring have experience in the market.
- Research visas and work authorizations: Many countries require people who aren’t citizens to have a special visa and work permit before a company can legally employ them. It’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the new country’s visa and work permit requirements, as they can be complex. Non-citizens might need to have an employer sponsor them before they can get the appropriate visa. In some cases, visas are assigned based on a lottery system, meaning your employees may not get the documentation they need to transfer to another country.
- Plan for the costs of relocation: Relocating employees comes at a cost, but sometimes that cost can be less than the expense of hiring a new team member in-country. Calculate a rough estimate of how much your company is likely to spend moving employees from point A to point B. Some relocation-related expenses to consider include the cost of hiring movers, storing employees’ belongings, transportation, and providing temporary housing to employees. Based on the estimated expenses and your company’s budget, you might need to adjust what you offer employees in their relocation packages.
- Write an offer letter: Once you’ve calculated a budget for relocation and have found the most suitable employees to transfer, it’s time to put everything in writing. Offer letters should detail the terms of the relocation, such as how long the assignment will last and what the employees’ role will be. It should also include details about what they will receive from your company, such as reimbursements for certain expenses, cost of living or other types of allowances, and help with getting the appropriate visas.
- Provide ongoing support: Your company’s commitment to relocation doesn’t end once the employees sign their offer letters. To minimize the chance that employees will quit or want to return to their home country before the end of the assignment, you must provide support to your team members. Support can take the form of introducing the employees to other team members, providing advice to help employees settle in, and planning social events that help relocated team members get to know each other.
Best practices for relocating employees
You can make the relocation process run much more smoothly for your company and your employees if you follow some best practices. These practices ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to international transfers. Following best practices also leaves little room for confusion and error.
- Consider tiered compensation: The relocation incentives you offer team members should be based on their level with the company. For example, you will likely provide more benefits and perks to executive team members who relocate than you will to entry-level employees. Setting up a tiered compensation system and clearly defining who falls into each tier and what they will receive in their package can minimize questions or concerns.
- Manage expatriation and repatriation: Getting the right visas and permits is just the start of the immigration process. Your employees may also need to renew their visas, depending on the length of their assignment. Along with helping them get their permits, it’s a good idea to remind them of upcoming expiration dates. When employees are ready to return to their home country, your company can guide them through the repatriation process as well.
- Offer assistance to spouses and other family members: If employees move abroad with their spouses, companies often assist the spouses, as well. You might help spouses get work permits or connect them with job-finding services. If the family has children, it’s a good idea to provide education assistance, too.
- Have a flexible start date: Since flights can get canceled or travel plans can otherwise change with little warning, it’s a good idea to have a flexible start date when relocating employees. Being flexible about a start date also gives employees time to settle in once they arrive in the new location, allowing them to feel more acclimated to their new home before they start working.
- Find someone to act as a “tour guide”: It can be helpful to appoint someone to act as a guide for relocating employees. The “tour guide” can show newly relocated employees around, taking them to stores, banks, and other service providers in the area or assisting with setting up utility accounts.
What if you don’t have an entity set up in the new country?
Global growth can help your company reach its goals and provides an opportunity to enter new markets. But international growth comes at a cost, and your company might not be ready to establish subsidiaries in new countries or hire employees in international locations. A global Employer of Record (EOR) can streamline the onboarding and payroll process for companies looking to expand globally, allowing companies to retain international employees compliantly without setting up an entity.
Learn how Globalization Partners can help
Globalization Partners can be your EOR in countries worldwide. We offer our services in 187 countries, making it possible for you to hire in a new location with ease. To learn more about what we can do for your company, request a proposal today.