Working as an expat entails embracing a new culture not only professionally but also personally. Relocating to a different country can be challenging without a sound support system. The HR groups in the organization employing the expat plays an extremely critical role in helping acclimatize the expat to the host country. To play this role it is important for the HR folks to understand exactly what expats expect when they do make the move to India.
The expectations of an expat employee will be different from the locals that the organizations hire. Unlike the local employee, expat employees might need help for every small little mundane task – think of things like finding a grocery store, hiring domestic help etc. HR needs to brace itself to stand up to be counted while hiring an expat employee. After all, it is the organization’s duty to take care of the incoming expat employee.
Here are some 7 expectations that incoming expats have from their organizations and from HR:
1. Legal issues fully taken care of
The most important thing while hiring an expat is comprehensively addressing all the legal issues. The expat employee expects the hiring organization to take care of the legalities involved during the visa and immigration process. It goes without saying that it is the hiring organization’s responsibility to ensure a smooth immigration experience for their expat employees. The HR department needs to inform the expat about the conditions and details of the Indian Employment Visa and the documents required to complete the procurement of visa and immigration process. This can be a daunting process, as most government processes are, so the expat employees will appreciate transparency and regular updates over the duration of the visa application and approval process.
2. Job security
Relocating to a new country is no small decision and definitely not one made with the intention of reversing it within a short period of time. Job security is one of the major concerns for any expat employee. This means that the terms of hiring, the performance expectations, the exact scale and scope of the role, and all other relevant details should be clearly mentioned in the hiring contract. The tenure of the job should be clearly stated before hiring the expat employee. A legal contract will create that much-needed sense of job security.
3. Language familiarization
Among the biggest barriers the expat employees’ face is language. The expat employee would expect the HR to provide some basic language training. This familiarization should be conducted early in the arrival of the expat to the foreign land. This will help the expat employee in settling down with the local employees. Reducing the impact of the language barrier is an important task. In many organizations, especially when the expat is expected to stay on for a longer duration, this basic language training is followed by more intensive language training.
4. Cultural Assimilation
Moving base to a foreign land often involves going through a cultural shock. We have written in the past how helping an expat employee to warm up to the local culture can help in reducing this shock and getting the expat employee on his or her feet. This cultural training can start even before the expat lands in the country. A brief introduction will help in dealing with the sudden cultural changes. After the immigration, the hiring organization could even help the expats in finding and being a part of social groups in the city that cater to expats of people with similar interests.
5. Family Relocation
If the expat employee is relocating with his family then they would expect the HR to take care of all the visa and immigration procedures for the family members as well. Besides this, the expat would want assistance in helping get the family set up. This may mean finding accommodation suitable for his family. In case the expat employees have kids, they would like to have assistance in searching for an appropriate educational institute for the kids as well.
6. Finding Employment for Spouse
This is a bit trickier – but must be dealt with appropriately. If the expat employee has a working spouse, they may expect the organization to help in searching for employment for their spouse too. A few years ago the rules were changed to allow a dependent visa to be altered to an employment visa. The nuance here is how much the organization employing the expat can support the job search of the expat’s spouse. That said, transparent and clear commitment on what is possible and what isn’t will work wonders.
The biggest fear for an expat employee usually is – what after this job and international stint? Repatriating to their domestic country can be a challenging task after spending years away from it. This is especially true while they are searching for a job back in the home country. The expat employee may expect the HR group in their host country to help them in the process of repatriating to their domestic country. This may involve some basic help in the search for a suitable job. The minimum support is references, experience certificates, employment details, and organizations also go far enough to provide some degree of outplacement help too.
The HR might not have to worry about these points while hiring a local employee but when hiring an expat, the scenario changes. To keep the expat employee happy and productive over the duration of the stay in the host country, it’s up to the HR department to ensure that they know what their incoming expat employee expects of them. And, then to match those expectations!