homesick assignee

How to Make Homesick Assignees Feel Like Their Family is with Them

The global mobility specialist’s work does not end once his assignee starts reporting to work in his new company — in fact, it has just begun. The success of the assignee will reflect on the global mobility specialist’s choice of recruit, and perhaps can extend to and affect the rest of his recruitment and talent management campaign.

If the assignee delivers and gives an excellent performance, then the chances of executive management greenlighting another recruitment drive increases. The adverse is also true; if the first batch of assignees fails to deliver, then there is an equally good chance that management will just suspend any “expatriate-related’’ campaign and content themselves with just hiring the locals.

The statistics do argue in behalf of management’s concerns. Recruiting and retaining an assignee has to be worth the corporate investment, which according to Worldwide ERC now amounts to more than $1 million that covers the three to five years of an assignee’s stay in his country of employment. What places more pressure on the global mobility specialist are the latest studies that say only 58 percent of expatriate jobs or international assignments are considered successful.

To increase the chances of their assignee’s success and ensure a healthy pipeline of international hires in the future, the global mobility specialist might consider doing the following tips:


Immerse your assignee with intercultural training before and after they arrive at their city or country of employment.

Even if the region that your assignee might be relocating to might be as culturally open or as diversity-friendly as Northern California, never take it for granted that your assignee will just blend in with the rest of the crowd.

Always allot a time and method for cultural immersion, even if the assignee speaks and writes English fluently. Small nuances that are neglected can make or break a work-related conversation, a sales pitch, or a client call: these include idioms, business etiquette, and even interpersonal relations. What may or may not be offensive or humorous to your assignee is something that you also have to look at.

Once he is already on board, check on him once a while. Dig deep into how he is responding to the little things like how his colleagues treat others, party after office-hours, and interact with their superiors. If there is any discomfort at all, address it by explaining the cultural mores of the present environment to your assignee, and give him solid advice on how to deal with it.


Create a strong bridge between your assignee and his family, regardless of the latter’s location.

Family does not necessarily just apply to his significant other and/or their kids. The 21st-century family has evolved, and global mobility specialists should be aware of the uniqueness of the various models and learn how to deal with their specific needs. But again regardless if the assignee’s family is the traditional nuclear one, a blended family, single parenthood, or an extended clan, their support is crucial to his success. The welfare of his spouse, partner, kid, and parent can affect his performance in his country of employment.

In one Harvard Business Review study, 32 percent of the leaders surveyed said they turned down a global assignment because they did not want to leave their families at home. Another 28 percent said they did the same because they did not want to separate from their spouses.

If your assignee is bringing his family with him to his country of employment, then the global mobility specialist must exert all effort to ensure that they too feel welcome. Their adjustment in their new home can likewise influence the assignee’s performance on the job. There is nothing like a teenager failing in his new high school, or a lonely wife begging her husband to come home early every night, to lower his morale. The global mobility specialist can take the next dozen extra miles forward and help his assignee make his family feel happy and fulfilled. He can involve the other shareholders that also have a stake in the matter.

For example, he can introduce the kids to dance classes and other hobby groups in ethnic communities similar to their own that are located in their area. Special classes can be held in the schools to boost their fluency in English. In the same way, arrangements can be made for the spouse to get involved in philanthropic activities in the community, the local art center, or a support group for expatriates like California Corporate Housing can reinforce their sense of belonging by redesigning their accommodations to reflect their cultural leanings.


Finally, Relocate Magazine advises the global mobility specialist to furnish his assignee’s accommodations with communications devices like VoIP or Skype which can be on his smartphone so he can be reached anytime.

The assignee and his individual family members can also use VoIP (better used if making an international call) to reach out to counselors if they need advice on personal matters, or if they just need a friendly ear to vent to.

Virtual assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home can answer their questions about how to fit in, especially if there is no human being nearby to talk to.

Technology can certainly help the assignee and his family cope with their new surroundings. It becomes doubly important if the assignee’s family has not joined him in his new assignment.

For example, a smart TV can connect him and his family–live, as he’s cooking in the kitchen or just lounging on the sofa. Having a tablet computer can also mean he can take his family all around his apartment. Talk about a shared connection, digitally and emotionally. Some of California Corporate Housing’s apartments have smart TVs.

There is a certain comfort in knowing that the assignee, especially if he’s from abroad, can always reach out to his family anytime. The friendly warm face of a spouse or child smiling back can do wonders for an assignee’s morale and motivation.