strategy for family, flexibility

Why You Need a Strategy Now When it Comes to Security, Flexibility, Family Needs

In the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland early this year, this statement was burnished everywhere: “We live in a fast-paced and interconnected world where breakthrough technologies, demographic shifts and political transformations have far-reaching societal and economic consequences. More than ever, leaders need to share insights and innovations on how to best navigate the future.”

Global mobility managers have a key role in navigating the future of work for people everywhere. An earlier piece here discussed the major considerations that assignees think of before they sign the dotted line. Just to recap, these include the following: a female-supportive workplace, accessibility to medical services, intense intercultural immersion, and constant communication from you, the global mobility manager. An attractive compensation package goes without saying. So does regular, if unobtrusive support from you and your superiors to see to it that the assignee does perform optimally, and is happy with the working environment and living accommodations.

Are your local hires or foreign assignees blending in harmoniously with their environment? Is the culture shock minimal? Is there a serious need to adjust to a certain corporate etiquette? Are they exhibiting loyalty to the company? Is their performance constantly improving? Would they be willing to extend their contract after it ends, should the company still need them? Would they be open to relocation to other offices? So many questions — and you have to factor in their cultural background as well.

Many talents, especially those who are coming from another country, can have far more questions than that; they are simply not voiced out. In a sense, you have to be able to anticipate their needs. From recent surveys and studies from global research companies, below are issues that you might want to address sooner than later:

Everyone’s priority: Security and safety

Crown World Mobility names security and safety as among the top priorities of assignees in its report on 2017 global mobility trends. Assignees want to know that they will be safe at all times. It doesn’t matter if they are working in the advanced countries that have access to the latest cutting-edge surveillance or crime-fighting technologies. Terrorist bombings, viral epidemics, earthquakes, and city-disrupting storms have made them realize the level of vulnerability that they can be exposed to. This concern heightens if they bring their families along with them to their new country of employment.

Even if your place of employment is relatively safe, with communities that thrive on diversity and are immigrant-friendly (think Northern California), you cannot dismiss these concerns or shrug them off. Look at it from their perspective: they live in a foreign land where everything is new to them. The feelings of the general populace or even government policies like the current  administration’s tightening of entry of foreign workers can change suddenly and abruptly even if they are blocked by a federal judge.

What you can do is hear these concerns, show the protocols that you have established to keep assignees and their families safe — and always assure them that you will be there to help, especially during a crisis.

Having corporate security teams in place or disaster-coping programs will also reinforce their belief that the company will always have their back. At the same time, these programs will also empower them to have a more proactive approach should the worst scenario happen. At any rate, they will stop feeling like a victim.

For their peace of mind, you can also help them establish a strong support system in their neighborhood such as the nearest hospital, the embassy, or companies that ensure their living accommodations like California Corporate Housing.

Millennials’ concern: More flexible working arrangements

Crown World Mobility points to flexibility as another concern of foreign nationals, but this time mostly from the young millennial workforce. These tech-savvy, mobile twenty-to-thirtysomething professionals want a more fluid arrangement when it comes to their working conditions.

Some of the structural elements that you provided when they first signed up may no longer be desirable midway through their tenure. For example, if their performance is exemplary, they might turn down a financial bonus in return for a couple of weeks of paid leave. Or if you are drawing a package that has a travel vacation component, they would want to have a say in the choices you are giving them.

To boost their enthusiasm and morale, do not just hand out a resort or two where they can have a good time. Instead, sit down with them, ask them about their interests–their preferred ways of relaxation or entertainment, for instance (adventure travel is in, museums are out), and then work with them in coming up with a list of destinations they can enjoy as you keep a firm hand on the budget.

Overall, assignees think with their families in mind

Assignees work hard because they realize the value of their assignment. It is an open door to career advancement, a means to provide a better life for their family, and a front-row seat to global learning. However, many younger millennial assignees differ from their senior expatriate colleagues in the sense that they want to enhance their “user experience” while living in their adopted country.

Keep that buzz word in mind for the next generation of new millennial assignees. A road trip to a secluded but fascinating destination, dancing with the natives in a community festival, a helicopter ride over a high mountain — no matter how fleeting or rare (or perhaps because they are fleeting and rare), it is these experiences that can act like the most attractive incentives to young assignees.

As pointed out by Deloitte, they want to live life to the full and savor every opportunity to enjoy what their new home offers. Weekend thrills can range from the adventurous river rafting to feasting on the newest exotic restaurants in town. Let them enjoy these moments and leverage on them to bond with your assignees. Take them and his loved ones out on the town on a regular basis. The culturally diverse communities in Northern California can be a way for them to reconnect with his home country — or learn about other cultures. Expect selfies, groupies, and all sorts of digital mementos to crop up on their digital screens and social media sites. It’s their own way of making themselves feel welcome and happy in their place of assignment.