Expatriate Assignments

International companies are realizing that expatriate employees require significant support to complete their assignment successfully.With 40% of all overseas assignments failing, the cost of failure is high – the average cost of an expat assignment can amount to 1,000 per year.Preparation is key to ensuring a successful overseas international assignment and support should be offered throughout the process.

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Global companies are under considerable pressure to determine what makes a successful overseas assignment and to understand why they so often fail.

To minimize the risk of such failure and to ensure the well-being of their employees, organizations must examine the key challenges facing expats deployed overseas, and determine the best way to prepare, support, and manage them during their time abroad.

While none of these parties will want to dwell on the reasons for failure, it is particularly important that companies understand the financial (and non-financial) costs of failure, in order to assess the overall return on investment, the viability of their global assignment program – and to help plan more successful assignments in the future.

The cost of a failed assignment depends on the salary level of the transferee, the size of his family and the destination country.

It is very important for expats to keep in touch with colleagues and work life back home so that they have a more balanced view of their role within the global organization and are better prepared for repatriation once the assignment is over.

While children and spouses are frequent factors in early repatriation cases, these difficulties are extremely hard to spot because most expats are reluctant to share domestic or social difficulties with the company – the company needs to know that the assignee’s family is coping, and it should explain the need for open communication up-front.

Some of the most important services that should be available to all expats on overseas international assignments include: According to INSEAD business school, the five main reasons for expatriate assignment failure, which they estimate at 40-50% of all overseas deployments are: Unless there is a previous track record of success, it is very difficult to isolate the qualities that successful expats require.

The local branch of the company in the host country has a crucial role to play in supporting newly arrived employees.

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This article was written by Rob Chipman, President of FIDI, and CEO of Asian Tiger Mobility in Hong Kong.

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