Expats Who Help American Companies Create ‘Business Bridges’ Globally

American companies like Asian talents for many good reasons. Their fluency in several languages, familiarity with or at least openness to the Western corporate culture and mindset, as well as versatility and agility in creating bridges between their home countries and outside enterprises make them ideal ambassadors of the business world.

Many of these talents from Asia have become the new “expatriates”. They are wanted by their own countries’ companies as well as foreign firms alike because they straddle many worlds while also proving they are of international caliber.

In the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, 10 nations of the top 50 that performed strongly in infrastructure, business sustainability, foreign investment, talent and training, financial market development, labor market efficiency, and technological readiness came from these countries: Singapore, #2; Japan, #8; Hong Kong, #9; Taiwan, #14; Malaysia, #25; Republic of Korea, #26; China, #28; Thailand, #34; India, #39; and Indonesia, #41.

The US is still a preferred place of employment — and companies in Silicon Valley and Northern California continue to draw a lot of these Asians who are mostly mobile millennials; 80 percent of their managers craft strategies that relocate them from one international office to another, depending on where their talent is needed. Oftentimes this young thirtysomething workforce relish the challenges, the diverse exposure, and the learnings that they receive. Why do American companies like them? They do show loyalty to their employers and might not be easily poached.

This is why global mobility managers have to think long-term as they recruit and attract these top talents. They want Asian talents to stay with their companies for a considerable period of time, even as the horizon of opportunities seems to keep on opening and offering them one sweetened perk after another. There are three ways to do it:

First, understand their motivations and offer them a package that will appeal to what is closest to them in terms of accomplishing their dreams. While the so-called expensive expat package is expensive, millennial Asian assignees may not sign the dotted line simply based on the numbers that they see. Global mobility managers should remember that many of these Asian assignees came from emerging countries. Being placed in a hardship post may not shock them as it would their more sheltered colleagues. As such, while money is important, it is not the sole factor that can capture and keep their loyalty.

Each Asian assignee comes from a different background and culture that shapes their individual motivation, and it behooves the global mobility manager to discover it. An Indian assignee might be more attracted by a subsidized higher education or skills training in artificial intelligence. A Malaysian assignee might be enticed by projects that will have monthly travels. A Singaporean assignee used to putting in more than 50 hours a week in Singapore might welcome the idea of work-life balance espoused by several states in Northern California.

Second, provide a platform and a program that will assure the Asian assignee that he will have continuous assignments in the future. For example, if his current stint in San Francisco City ends in a year’s time, can he look forward to working for another company in San Jose just a few miles away?This kind of program will assure the Asian assignee of the job security that he needs, without tying him down to one place.

Finally, address his family concerns, which might mean coming up with innovative non-traditional ways to secure and safeguard those ties while the assignee is away.

Asian loyalties and relationships go beyond the nuclear family model. They can involve ongoing support of aged parents, stepchildren, orphaned nephews and nieces, and even a nanny to take care of the baby. It doesn’t mean that all of them will be coming with the Asian assignee to their new country of employment.

What it does mean is that the global mobility specialist must ensure that no strain happen to these valued relationships; the assignee’s high school kids can come with their parent and study in a US school system, for instance.

An assignee’s ex-spouse may want to have virtual visiting rights every week. Meantime, the assignee has to maintain regular contact with a father who has a medical condition; they check up on him virtually every two weeks at his own home, being taken care of by a fulltime nurse that is on the assignee’s payroll.

Flexible work arrangements, perks that can push his performance higher, a solid program that will advance their career, and special arrangements to maintain healthy family bonds can make them seriously consider accepting a job offer.