It is a given that expats who decide to relocate, perform better in the host country with the support of the HR Department of the hiring company. It is the HR Department’s duty to create and cultivate a supportive, nurturing, friendly, and warm environment for their expat employees. And, if it means tweaking your HR Policies to suit the expat employee’s needs, so be it.
A rigid HR Policy can create unwarranted hurdles in the settling down of the expat employee in the host country. In fact, the HR Department’s role begins much before the expat employee arrives in the host country. The HR Department is the connecting link between the expat employee and the host country. We have written earlier, how it is essential to acquaint the expat employee with the culture of the host country before introducing him to the hiring company and its work culture. This is necessary because the foreign national will have a life beyond the office and he or she needs to feel at home, inside and outside the office.
The 5 HR Policies You May Need to Change
There will be numerous issues faced by expat employees that local employees do not face. Every foreign national would have some distinct needs or demands depending on where they come from and their circumstances. The HR department must be able to cater to the specific needs of each individual expat employee.
Here are the 5 HR policies that you may need to tweak or change to cater to your expat employees.
1. Language Training
This is the first and foremost issue that you may need to address for your expat employee. Obviously, you are unlikely to have to provide language training to your local employees but while hiring an expat employee; it could become essential. It is always advisable to begin the language training before the expat employee lands. Depending on the background of the employee, this may have to cover the local language, or English, or both. For starters, provide very basic language training by introducing and acquainting them with the commonly used words and phrases. This will not only be helpful for the expat employees to communicate but will also help them connect with the locals both inside and outside the office.
2. Accommodation Assistance
Many of the major companies including MNCs based in India don’t have a policy of assisting or providing local employees with accommodation. But, in case of a foreign national, you might need to do so. Even if you don’t provide the accommodation, you will have to provide them with substantial assistance in locating and finalizing a home. Finding accommodation in India can be a tedious task and more so if you are a foreigner. You wouldn’t want to risk losing a valuable expat employee because of problems with accommodation.
You may have to consider amending the leaves policy for your expat employees. Consider that they are likely to need more time for traveling to and fro from their country of residence for their annual leaves. Expat employees are sometimes less likely to be able to utilize the one-off public holiday that occurs every so often in the Indian calendar. They are more likely to want to prefer their holidays bunched up together in a block. They may also need to be given time off to celebrate occasions and festivals that are specific to their country of origin.
4. Adjusting Office Hours
Compared to India, some other countries have fewer working hours in a week. In some specific cases, this could have legal implications if the employee is still technically on the rolls of the foreign entity. This may also impact the ability or desire of the expat employee while in India. There is also the possibility that the role or function the expat performs may demand an overlap with the foreign location. In situations like this, you may need to flex or relax the working hours and timings for these expat employees.
5. Specific Training to Adjust into the Local Landscape
Adjusting and fitting into a foreign country needs much more than just knowing the local language. India is a country with diverse culture and it’s often difficult for foreign nationals to understand the dynamics of the changing demographic culture across the country. It’s vital for the HR Department to acclimatize the foreign nationals with the Indian culture. This may include introducing them to clubs and communities of other expats, similarly placed. This helps in preventing a culture shock and in allowing the expat to settle in.
The environment the expat employee functions in is a major contributor to his or her productivity and efficiency. The HR department must ensure that the expat employees have all the support necessary – even if this means going above and beyond what you would for your local employees. Different strokes for different folks, as they used to say.