Life Cycle of an International Assignment: Supporting Employees Before, During and After Assignment

Employers spend a significant amount of financial and human resources planning and coordinating international assignments. In fact, cost of international assignments is one of the top mobility-related concerns of global employers, and 70% of respondents to a 2016 survey say that there is considerable pressure to reduce costs.

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January 11, 2020

Employers spend a significant amount of financial and human resources on planning and coordinating international assignments. In fact, cost of international assignments is the one of the top mobility-related concerns of global employers, and 70% of respondents to a 2016 survey say that there is considerable pressure to reduce costs.1 About half of those survey respondents are planning to reduce the number of international assignees in order to control expenses. Given this focus on costs, there is pressure to ensure that assignments that do take place are successful, and that employees are retained after assignment so that valuable skills are not lost.

Family stress, cultural differences, increased workloads and burn-out can undermine up to one third of all global expatriate assignments, despite a significant investment by multinational companies estimated at three to five times an employee's salary, according to a survey from National Foreign Trade Council and Cigna.2


In this article, we'll expand on the reasons why international assignments (meaning any assignment where an employee lives outside his or her home country for a significant period of time) may be challenged and will offer strategies employers can use before, during and after an assignment to promote a productive experience for all involved. When the word "failure" is used throughout this paper, it should be considered broadly- early return of assignee; assignee returns on time but with relational, physical or financial consequences; dissatisfaction with assignee's job performance; damaged relationships leading to a loss of market share; attrition after assignment, etc.- since all these instances will have an impact on the organization. A list of resources that employers may find helpful when developing their international assignment strategy is also included.

Challenges for Assignees

Family Concerns

Family inability to adjust is one of the primary causes of assignment failure. The average assignee is male, middle­ aged and has a family. Family members often have anxiety over moving to a country where they don’t speak the language or understand the culture, and they may feel as if they are being asked to give a lot without getting much in return.3 Many are leaving behind their support network and may be dealing with challenges they’ve never faced before, from the practical (e.g., how to get Internet service) to the emotional (e.g., spending a lot of time alone).4,5 Children's educational needs, in particular, are an issue for both companies and employees. "Companies are increasingly expecting assignees to utilize local schools, versus international schools, and/or are cutting or capping school tuition assistance payments. This is happening at the same time that companies are continuing to push into emerging markets, precisely the locations that have traditionally had less to offer in the way of quality international schooling options. In addition, certain global markets continue to see enrollment pressures for schools that have traditionally been sought after by expatriates."6

33% of assignments that fail do so because of family-related issues.


Brookfield GRS

The phenomenon of the "trailing spouse", a person who follows his or her partner to another location because of a work assignment, can lead to personal challenges for both the assignee and their partner. Some research shows that 40% of marriages fail while on assignment,4 and approximately one-third of respondents to a recent survey indicated that trailing spouses increased the chances of assignment failure? Spouses may feel as if they do not have a purpose or identity in the new country. A 2015 survey showed that only 24% of spouses (84% of which are women) were able to find jobs in the host country because of legal roadblocks.5

Besides the emotional issues that may present, two-thirds of families with school-age children rely on dual incomes. Spouses and assignees may worry about how they will deal financially with becoming a single­ income family.3 Increasingly, employers are recognizing the trailing spouse as a contributor to assignment success: "When asked how companies assist spouses or partners, 71% of respondents cited language training, 55% offer intercultural training, 40% provide assistance with education/training, 37% offer career-planning assistance, 29% offer a lump sum allowance for spousal/partner support, and 28% offer employment search or job-finding fees."6

Family issues may also arise when the employee does not bring their family along on assignment. A recent survey showed that 38% of assignees leave their children behind.8 This can add stress on a marriage, particularly where one spouse may be dealing with the challenges of essentially acting as a single parent while the other is on assignment.9 In some cases, "split-family" status can be avoided by ensuring that families have the resources they need to prepare for international relocation, such as those outlined in this paper. In other cases, when splitting families is unavoidable, employers may want to consider offering additional home visits for the assignee or putting them on a short-term or commuter assignment instead.10 "The best candidates for overseas assignments may not be ready or willing to relocate, so alternatives to traditional mobility such as virtual meetings and commuting are an efficient way of making sure that the best skills are made available. Extended business travel and short-term, as-needed visits are an effective way of moving skills where they need to be and often make the most sense for roles that require extensive travel anyway."11

Host Country Challenges

While statistics around failed assignments differ, research does show that failure rates vary by location.12 According to a 2016 survey by Brookfield Global Relocation Services, the least likely locations for success are China, India, Brazil and Russia. Respondents listed a variety of reasons why these countries in particular were challenging. Examples given include security issues in Brazil; air quality, language issues and access to quality education in China; cultural differences, living standards and lack of jobs for spouses in India; and an unstable economy, safety concerns and the political situation in Russia.1 Respondents to a Cartus study added the United States and Italy to that list, due to immigration requirements in both countries and driving rules and a lengthy work permit process in Italy.13

Where expatriates are assigned also makes a difference in their satisfaction with, and perception of, their employer's support and efforts on their behalf. For example, “Satisfaction with their employers' efforts was lowest from expatriates on assignment in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, and South America and highest in Australia and Europe."2 Priorities also differ by region. Top priorities by region reported by assignees are as follows:2

  • Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa: Medical preparedness.
  • North and South America: Financial and tax-related consultation.
  • Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa: Assistance with schools; and
  • Asia and Middle East: Cross-cultural training.

Additionally, assignees in various locations have different expectations and experiences:2

  • Central America and Middle East: Assignees in these regions have double the percentage of unmet expectations related to quality of life than those in other regions;
  • Australia and Europe: Assignees in these regions report the highest quality of life.
  • Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa: Assignees report the highest amount of "dissatisfaction related to impact on the family;"2 and
  • North America: 21% of those in the U.S. and Canada report unmet expectations regarding their benefits package, compared to 13% worldwide.

Three-fourths of expat households say that they access medical care "mostly locally."14 Accessing medical care in a new environment may be stressful for assignees and families--and assignees with families are more likely to experience stress (91%) than are single assignees (64%) and married assignees without children (67%). Young assignees report substantial uncertainty about how to access care: "Expats under age 34 were considerably less informed about the specifics of their health plans. For example, their uncertainty about claim handling was four times higher than the average of other age segments, and their lack of knowledge about where to access health care services was triple that of other segments."2 This may be a particular issue where the employee or one of their family members already have a chronic condition or health issue. In some locations, there may be difficulties with obtaining needed medications or finding appropriate specialists. Expatriates and family members can be at a higher risk for mental health problems as well--15 and many countries may have few providers available to treat them.

Cultural and Country Assimilation Problems

Cultural and communication differences can make doing business in a new country difficult and confusing at times. Men and women around the world, both within and across cultures, can differ greatly in how they interact with one another and approach work and life. While this may seem obvious, subtle differences can make a big impact. Although Global Business Group on Health members report that some of these differences may have lessened in recent years, historically, in the United States, a leader may look for feedback from his or her team but then may make a decision fairly quickly, allowing for adjustments as a project progresses. In Sweden, group consensus and buy-in is important, and in France, the entire team may debate pros and cons at length before coming to a decision. In Japan, by contrast to those three others countries, decisions may be made on a one-on-one basis informally before the group ever meets.16 If an assignee is not aware of or comfortable with other types of communication and decision-making processes, they may experience stress and frustration with their new role. Even for the most adaptable assignee, it can still be difficult to find a balance between trying to adapt to local customs while meeting corporate priorities.4

Over one-fourth of international assignees don't possess the leadership skills necessary to succeed in their host culture and almost one in five have significant difficulty adapting.


Brookfield GRS

There is also the challenge of learning to live within a new culture, which impacts the entire family unit. In fact, "foreign context and culture may be more difficult for accompanying family, as they will not be participating in the 'more secure' environment of the work site."12 Whether cultural training is provided to employees and families often depends on the company and the location. Over 80% of companies responding to a 2014 survey stated that they provide it for some (45%) or all (39%) assignments.6 "When provided for some assignments, reasons for providing are based on:6

  • Host location challenges (37%).
  • Type of assignment (17%).
  • Assignee familiarity with host country (17%).
  • International assignee request (8%).
  • Cost approval (7%); and
  • Other reasons (14%)."6

Over half of companies that offer cultural training to all assignees offer it to families as well. Only 23% make cross-cultural training mandatory.6 Twenty-five percent of responding companies to another recent survey stated that they offered language lessons to international assignees. "While only 18 percent of North American employers offer language lessons, 33 percent of European, African and Middle Eastern companies do so. An average of 16 percent of companies worldwide give minimal or no preparation at all to employees going on an international assignment."17 And only 20% of assignee respondents to a survey say that their employer provides information on lifestyle resources like grocery stores or child care.8

Difficulty Coping with Increased Demands

International assignees have a lot to contend with at once--relocation, a change in cultures, a new working environment, and a sudden shift in responsibility. They may be supervising a larger number of staff than ever before or have responsibility for a much larger geographic area than in their home country. "Such large increases in responsibility are difficult for anyone to handle. Added to that, are the new challenges of managing expectations of head office managers and clients in other countries who may not understand the cultural differences that are impacting results."4 Assignees may have few peers who understand the position they are in and their former mentors may have little international experience. This can be a lonely experience and a disorienting one as they navigate their new role.

Additionally, employees chosen for international assignments are typically driven and hard-working. They may work long hours in order to be successful. "They are also adapting to seemingly overwhelming cultural differences with local staff and greatly expanded responsibilities. On the home front, the families of expatriates are almost certainly going through their own severe cultural adjustments and may be clamoring for the managers' time and attention to help them through it."4 This combination of intense work and other life stressors may lead to burn-out or poor job performance if not addressed.4

Inadequate Preparation for Repatriation

Even after a successful assignment, international assignees may leave their organization because an effective repatriation strategy doesn’t exist. Only 53% of assignees say that their employer has a formal strategy.8 Like many employees, repatriates often want a meaningful role upon their return to their home country that utilizes the skills they've learned. Results from a 2016 survey showed that the most common reasons that repatriated assignees leave their organization are that their new role expectations weren't met, that they were more marketable elsewhere or they had no opportunity to use their experience.1 Companies that have no formal career management process in place for their expatriates may see higher-than-average turnover among that population.18

Job security is a concern with respondents noting that many assignments end in unemployment rather than career advancement with the employer.


Cigna and National Foreign Trade Council Global Mobility Trends Survey

What Employers Can Do

Assignee and Family Selection

Selecting the right person for an international assignment is a critical factor for success. However, currently "80% of companies don't formally assess the adaptability of international assignment candidates, and only 29% use some type of self-assessment tool." Ron Pilenzo, the late president and CEO of The Global HR Consultancy, said, ""the most critical mismatches of an expat with wide differences in values, beliefs, managerial style and team orientation in a different cultural setting will blow up the assignment and leave a wake of destruction behind. All the training and preparation in the world cannot fix the wrong person going into the wrong country or region where the differences are so huge that they cannot be overcome by preparation before or during an assignment."17 It is important that employers do not only look at technical skills or whether a person has been successful in their home country when choosing someone to go on assignment." Instead, consider assessing candidates for the following traits (adapted from Sparrow in HR Director, Spring 2009):20

Linking Global Mobility and Talent Management

While only a relatively few companies (10% per a 2016 survey)1 is formally linking global mobility and talent management programs, those that do are typically successful in promoting international assignments as crucial opportunities for employees to grow. Therefore, most maintain candidate pools from which they can choose the most qualified applicants. They also have better governance and cost containment strategies in place, and most importantly, often have superior outcomes, including lower attrition rates for assignees.19


  • Relational abilities
  • Communication and interpersonal skills.
    • Maturity and emotional stability.
    • Tolerance for ambiguity.
    • Respect for culture of host country.
    • Adaptability and flexibility in a new environment; and
    • Information seeking skills (i.e., listening and observing).
  • Modeling capacities
    • Observational learning to acquire knowledge, attitudes, values, emotional tendencies and competences.
    • Non-judgmental frameworks; and
    • Ability to interpret behavior of host country nationals without negatively or positively evaluating it.
  • Self-maintenance factors
    • Ability to replace traditional reinforcements or coping methods with new ones.
    • Stress reduction techniques; and
    • Self-efficacy (confidence in one's own abilities).
    • Leadership and motivational factors
      • Relationship development and personal influence skills.
      • Belief in the mission and goals; and
      • Interest in obtaining international experience.
    • Cultural awareness
      • An understanding of the differences between cultures and countries.
      • Host-country language skills; and
      • An understanding of culture-specific non-verbal communication.

The Reality of International Assignments

While the recommendations in this paper represent a sampling of best practices, conversations with Global Business Group on Health (GBGH) members reveal the challenges associated with implementing them in full. GBGH members report that many times, they are not informed of an impending assignment until immediately before an assignee departs or even after they arrive on-site. HR and/or medical staff are often encouraged to do what needs to be done to get the assignee to their new location as quickly as possible, and there may be very little or no time to screen or prepare assignees, particularly when business needs are urgent. Furthermore, it may be difficult to make a business case for an extensive preparation program if the company is only considering a very narrow definition of failed assignment (e.g., assignee returns to home country) or the costs of a failed assignment are dismissed as the cost of doing business. Nevertheless, because inadequate preparation can cause significant, time-intensive problems for the assignee, HR and/or medical staff, these personnel are encouraged to think about where they might be able to play a role in the selection and preparation of assignees and to choose recommendations that may be more realistic inside their own organizations.


The pressure on HR to provide evidence and insight to support mobility decisions and to manage programme costs will only increase in the future, and this means developing a predictive way of thinking- and embracing the analytical techniques that support it.


PwC: Talent Mobility: 2020 and beyond

The factors listed above make up a long list, and employers may be unlikely to find a good fit with each characteristic. Experts advise that in general, though, employers should think about taking a holistic view when it comes to assignee selection, looking at career management, individual preparedness, cross-cultural disposition and family readiness. Other issues to examine with the potential assignee include family and individual health status (and health resources and benefits available in the host country), opportunities for spouse or partner employment and access to quality education for traveling children.21 Furthermore, it may also be helpful to ask country nationals how a particular person or personality type might fit into their existing culture.22 Being clear about the objectives of the assignment and assessing how a particular candidate might meet those objectives may provide additional clarity about the best assignee for the job.23

Employers may want to consider using intercultural tools that help measure what might make someone more successful in a multicultural setting, such as the Self-Assessment for Global Endeavors (SAGE), the Global Competencies Inventory (GCI), the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and the Tucker Assessment Profile (TAP). In addition to being a resource for HR, these tools may help foster conversations about potential assignment challenges among family members and even help them self-select in or out of an assignment.23, 24 An assessment may also include psychological screenings that look at well-being, readiness, and openness to an international experience.25 "The latest research suggests that the best companies utilize a comprehensive battery of assessments with the candidate to determine whether or not an expatriate assignment will actually work. Being aware of potential derailers that could stand in the way of success is critical to understanding and adjusting to an international role."17

Assignee and Family Preparation

Cross-Cultural Training

Even the best candidate for an international assignment needs to be well-prepared for a significant work and life change. Cross-cultural or intercultural training, during which assignees learn more about what to expect in the host country, as well as which of their strengths and weaknesses may play a role in the assimilation 21 process, is a key piece of this preparation.3' Employers may want to consider making this type of training mandatory, although few do at this point.6,26 Eighty-nine percent of respondents to a recent survey said that cross-cultural training was a good or great value to their organization.6 The quality of cross-cultural training matters, though, as does assignee satisfaction with the training. "Higher expatriate training satisfaction with the intercultural training is related to higher levels of work adjustment within their first 30 days on their international assignment and throughout the first nine months."25 Cross-cultural preparation might include language study;26 information about communication and values in the host country;23 help with interpreting direct, non-direct, verbal and non-verbal feedback from peers,27 information about local regulations and requirements; training on how to avoid and respond to specific issues like sexual harassment claims;26 and security and safety concerns. If possible, it may be helpful to include current or former expatriates in pre­ assignment cultural training since they have first-hand knowledge of the international assignee experience.22

Practical Matters

It is important that assignees have a clear picture of what life will be like in the host country before they relocate. Employers may even want to offer a pre-assignment visit so that assignees can see housing, schools and medical facilities for themselves. If that isn’t feasible, providing online tools or social media sites that help assignees understand what life is like in the host country may be helpful,28 as well as encouraging families to relocate prior to their start date so they can explore their new country and begin getting acclimated. Employers may want to consider matching the assignee up with a peer in the host country who can help them prepare for the move and provide guidance on practical matters. Employers can also compile the following information to help make families feel more at home from the beginning:

  • Assistance in finding adequate housing, transportation, child care and schools.
  • Groceries and toiletries to get through the first few days.
  • A list of local stores, including their addresses and what they carry.
  • A list of local restaurants, including their locations and menus.
  • Instructions for how to make local and international phone calls, and a loaner phone if necessary.
  • Instructions for how to set up necessary utilities and TV/Internet service.
  • A translation guide to local foods, including local vernacular that may not be easily found elsewhere; and
  • A tour of the local area that includes safety briefings and information along with maps. 29

Assignees should be encouraged to do their own preparation, which may include Internet research and networking or language training, to supplement what is provided by the company. "While many organizations have formal training or pre-departure onboarding sessions, it should be noted that language fluency is critical to hit the ground running and those individuals who make time to both learn the language and details about the culture they are heading into will find a greater return for this personal investment."25 Pre-assignment preparation should also include a detailed discussion of the package being offered to the assignee, including health benefits, compensation, retirement/pension, housing and other benefits.

Assignees should be encouraged to do their own preparation, which may include Internet research and networking or language training, to supplement what is provided by the company. "While many organizations have formal training or pre-departure onboarding sessions, it should be noted that language fluency is critical to hit the ground running and those individuals who make time to both learn the language and details about the culture they are heading into will find a greater return for this personal investment."20 Pre-assignment preparation should also include a detailed discussion of the package being offered to the assignee, including health benefits, compensation, retirement/pension, housing and other benefits.

Health Status and Preventive Services

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that all long-term business travelers and expatriates receive a full medical and dental screening before departure.30 Assignees should also have a clear picture of the health system in their host country, including how they will access care for themselves and their family members and what will happen if they are diagnosed with a serious illness while on assignment.28 "Routine vaccines, including influenza vaccine, should be updated. In addition, long-term travelers should be aware of any vaccine requirements at their destination, either for employment, schooling, or entry."30 For more guidance from the CDC, see Travelers' Health.

Employers should ensure that international assignees are clear on how their health benefits will change while on assignment, what their financial responsibility for accessing care will be and whether they will have access to necessary medications or services (i.e., maternity, mental health, insulin for diabetes) in the new country. Environmental conditions like air quality should also be highlighted where applicable. Some GBGH members report holding one-on-one meetings with potential assignees and their families to discuss in detail what they should expect (and some have found that having their international medical plan carrier meet with the assignee may facilitate more open sharing). These types of meetings are particularly important for assignees who have chronic physical or mental health issues or health risks either personally or among their family members, or for those moving to locations where medical care is scarce or of low quality. The more transparent employers can be about whether services will be available or what might happen if, for example, someone with a mental health condition should decompensate in their host country, the more able families will be to self-select in and out of assignments.

Employers should also consider providing guidance regarding where to get care for illness, injury or preventive services while in the host country. This type of guidance may help keep assignees and family members healthy while on assignment, or may give them the information they need to decide whether an assignment is appropriate, thereby reducing the risk of evacuation or assignment failure due to medical need.

Trailing spouse

A number of employers are offering employment assistance to trailing spouses. Outplacement services may help trailing spouses find a job, and firms exist that help spouses and families find their own purposes and interests when relocating (see Resources section).3 Even very practical guidance like how to get a work visa or how to build an appropriate resume for the local job market may be critically important to an assignee's spouse or partner.

Of respondents to a 2015 survey, only 35% of companies offer some sort of dual-career relocation assistance. Of those that do, 64% offer job search assistance, 55% offer resume preparation, 55% offer a lump sum payment, 55% offer work permit assistance and 27% partially compensate for the spouse/ partner's lost salary. "The survey also showed 50% of companies are considering modifying their global policies to include some form of dual-career assistance, while the other 50% state modifying their policy for dual-career assistance is not a priority for them at this time."32

Supporting Current Assignees and Families

Performance Management

Assignees are often entering new roles, in a new country, with new teams, and may be dealing with professional and personal culture shock. Clear expectations may help them to be successful in an ambiguous environment. "Before an expatriate employee departs from the home-base country, the HR Department should work with the managers responsible for expatriate employees to develop a critical professional profile for each employee who is placed on an international assignment. This profile should clearly outline what the company's expectations and productivity standards are in areas such as profitability and operation efficiency."33 Performance goals should take into account the values and norms of the local business unit as well as corporate performance standards, with recognition of factors that may affect performance, such as language, culture, politics, labor relations, the economy, government, control and communications.33 Regular feedback along the way will help assignees know where they are succeeding as well as where they should focus their development efforts.25

A Single Point of Contact vs. A Team Approach

For years, people have extolled the virtues of a single point of contact for global mobility. According to Deloitte, "the 'single point of contact’, or SPOC, gained traction as a way to reduce noise amidst stressful conditions. The appeal is clear: one cross-functional expert guides an employee side-by-side through the entire process of his or her move." However, companies have found that one person cannot possibly understand and convey all the ins and outs related to global mobility (taxes, immigration, relocation, etc.), and this model often adds a layer of communication between the employee and the vendor who can best answer their question. Because of these drawbacks, a new "collaborative network" model is emerging, where mobility specialists act as a unified team to support and communicate with assignees.33


Coaching and Mentorship

Mentorship may be a valuable tool for both the assignee and the company. A mentor "helps interpret intercultural behaviors and suggests strategies to resolve communication challenges."23 Similarly, coaching services for the assignee as well as their in-country teams (particularly where the assignee is in a managerial role) may lead to increased productivity, a greater ability to communicate effectively among team members and an increase in problem-solving skills. Coaching may assist assignees in developing the leadership and managerial skills that will allow them to be successful in an international role.23

Family and Individual Support Services

An orientation upon arrival and connection to a mentor expatriate family or host can be invaluable to new assignees and spouses, as are informal networking groups, host-family support programs, social activities, and social media sites geared towards expatriate and local families in the community. For example, one Global Business Group on Health (GBGH) member offers connection events, including kid rooms and weekly spouse/partner coffee dates, to help expatriates families in the United States meet one another. Some global employers have a family support office specifically geared toward making expatriate families comfortable.3 An employee assistance program may help assignees and families address the stress that comes with international relocation, living in an unfamiliar environment and assimilating to a new culture.

Repatriation

About a quarter of expatriates leave their company within a year upon return to their home country.23 According to Mercer, "companies with well-structured repatriation programs often start discussions about reintegration with an employee as many as 12 months in advance of when the employee plans to return home. These conversations should focus on how the global assignment fits into the individual's overall career progression."18 Unfortunately, 53% of companies responding to a 2016 survey stated that they did not start those conversations until less than six months before the assignee returned to their host country.1 Eighty-two percent do not have a formal process for repatriation that is linked with career management and retention. To help returning assignees find new jobs in the organization, 34% rely on informal networking, 26% require the department that authorized the assignment to identify a position and S% post formal job announcements.1

Employers should consider encouraging assignees to return to their home country periodically during assignment in order to stay connected to their home office, as well as to take advantage of home-countrymen­ tors.18 In addition, "providing opportunities for repatriates to debrief their experience with HR, their return managers, or through formalized repatriation training or coaching helps the repatriate to effectively integrate the global experience both professionally and personally."23

Resource Listing

The list below represents a sampling of available resources for global mobility and international assignees. It should not be considered a complete listing nor an endorsement of any specific group or program.

Aetna, Inc.

"Aetna International offers a full portfolio of products and programs. All are designed to serve your global employees, including expatriates, third-country nationals and international business travelers."

BGRS

"By listening to our clients, we create mobility solutions that do more than relocate employees as effectively and efficiently as possible. Our solutions transform mobility into a driver of recruitment, development and retention. We are proud to be the partner of choice for many to some of the world's largest and best-known organizations as well as the governments of the United States and Canada. We manage over 60,000 relocations per annum in more than 140 countries."

Bupa Global

"We provide the highest level of private medical insurance available within Bupa, including direct access to leading specialists without referral, and the freedom to choose where you get treatment worldwide- be it when you and your loved ones need it most or for routine day to day care."

Cartus

"Cartus is the trusted industry leader, guiding clients through thousands of corporate relocation programs, large and small, unique and complex. Ideally equipped to lead, Cartus is ready to help your business- when­ ever, wherever your relocation program is headed."

Cigna

"Cigna Global Health Benefits can meet the needs of your employees on assignments across the world with unique global solutions. Unlike other health insurance companies, our operational systems and customer ser­ vice centers around the world are designed as an integrated international platform. This enables us to deliver international claims reimbursement in numerous currencies and languages, and operate within all time zones and across national borders."

Expatica

"Expatica is the international community's online home away from home. A must-read for English-speaking expatriates and internationals across Europe, Expatica provides a tailored local news service and essential information on living, working, and moving to your country of choice. With in-depth features, Expatica brings the international community closer together."

Impact Group

"At IMPACT Group, we work with leading companies around the world to coach employees and their families through every career transition."

InterNations

"As the largest international community for people who live and work abroad, InterNations offers global networking opportunities, local events and expat-relevant information. At around 3,500 monthly events and activities, expats get to meet fellow internationals in their city, while forums and destination guides provide valuable tips and information."

lOR Global Services

"IOR provides over 35 years of unrivaled efficiency and quality for our clients through our responsiveness, flexibility, and creative solutions and is a premier thought leader in the field. Our integrated suite of services offered worldwide includes” destination services, language training, intercultural training and global talent management."

KPMG

"Aligning our thinking to your talent management objectives, we can support you with the planning and management of your international workforce."

LemonLime Consulting

LemonLime Consulting is "a boutique cultural training firm specializing in training global leaders to achieve an enhanced global mindset."

Mercer

"Mercer provides a full spectrum of innovative global mobility solutions to help you build an effective mobility program. Mercer's offerings cover all bases of global mobility, including calculating allowances for all types of international assignments, policy benchmarking, global mobility metrics, software tools and guides for your company's international assignees."

Ricklin-Echikson Associates

"REA is a women-owned business specializing in helping corporations, families and individuals in transition. Over the past 30 years, REA has supported over 100,000 individuals and families "on the move" and has assisted corporations, employees and their families in developing the skills, the strategies and the confidence needed to successfully navigate transitions in the 21st century."

Right Management

"We are global career experts. Established in 1980, we have over 35 years of experience in career management and talent strategy. In that time, we've put 40,000 people to work every day, conducted over 12 mil­ lion interviews per year and successfully transitioned more than three million people into new roles."

Conclusion

Companies are investing significant resources into international assignments. Without also investing in selecting the right assignee, preparing the assignee and their families to relocate, providing support services during assignment and effectively repatriating assignees, employers may not see a good return on the money spent. Developing a plan to support assignees throughout the life cycle of an assignment will increase the chances of success for the assignee, their family and the company.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Challenges for Assignees
  2. What Employers Can Do
  3. Resource Listing
  4. Conclusion