Learning & Development

Getting Workers Abroad Happy and in One Piece

As an American company, you may sometimes need to send talent overseas. Whether you are hiring new employees for the role, or you have a current employee in mind, it’s important to know these three things—The major challenges, the solutions to those challenges, and selling the job to someone despite those challenges.

If you are looking to send someone overseas, it’s imperative that you understand the most disruptive difficulties first. Only then can you create a plan for working around and/or through those difficulties.
In short, the most common troubles relocated employees will face include:

  • Lengthy visa wait times;
  • Difficulties with payroll;
  • Housing troubles;
  • Health concerns; and
  • Safety and Security.

Concerning Visas

The Trouble
According to the Cartus Corporation’s recent report, Trends in Global Relocation: 2015 Biggest Challenges, obtaining visas can be a very tricky and lengthy process. And the procedures and times vary greatly from country to country. For example, visas can take as little as 3 weeks or as many as 6 months to process. Furthermore, complicated bureaucratic processes for obtaining a visa means that even a well-prepared application can run into all kinds of bumps.
The Solution
Preparation is the best way to deal with possible visa troubles. Research the procedures for deploying a candidate to a specific country ahead of time. Create a timeline should everything go smoothly, and then plan for an additional 4 to 6 weeks to handle any unforeseen difficulties. Getting in touch with someone in charge both in the United States and in the specific country can greatly expedite the process. A U.S. consulate, for example, will have details on the ins and outs of the visa process that might very well go beyond the standards set by the foreign countries official guidelines.
How to Sell It
Being up-front with your potential candidate or selected employee about the times involved and the various processes that are required for sending them to a specific country is your best bet. If you have done your homework, you can hand them a packet with relevant and helpful details.

Payroll Problems

The Trouble
The same Cartus research mentioned above also discusses some figures concerning payroll issues. One of the largest problems, according to the survey, involves currency fluctuation. Just over half (51%) of respondents mentioned that as a major issue. Differing payment practices or inflexibility between the foreign country and the United States can also lead to troubles.
The Solution
Learn what the local currency is, what the exchange rate is, and whether American money or traveler’s checks are used there. Sometimes they are, and that makes thing easier. When they aren’t, the best bet is to find a bank that operates in that country and the United States. Then it’s just a matter of setting up an account that your employee can access for payment. Additionally, it helps to learn if there are any special laws in that country concerning transferring pay overseas.
If the above options won’t work, you might have to get clever and see if there are other ways of sending money overseas through third parties.
In desperate situations, paying employees a one-time stipend covering their pay for a long period of time can work. Such a stipend should include the common fee for transferring those funds into another currency. The employee can then convert the currency and open a bank account when he or she arrives. Such a strategy has to be carefully planned, as many countries require you make special arrangements when you arrive with large amounts of cash.
How to Sell It
As always, if you have researched the country’s policies and the features of the country’s monetary system, you can just tell your employee where he or she can collect the funds, what currency it will be in, and how you intend to ensure that you’ve taken fluctuation of currency into consideration. Being in control and having a proven method ahead of time will help put your talent at ease.

The Issue of Housing

The Trouble
Housing can be expensive and difficult. Take a look at these numbers provided by Cartus:

  • 64 percent of managers said high housing costs were a major concern.
  • 52 percent of employees found housing to be of inadequate quality.
  • 50 percent of employees found that housing wasn’t readily available.

When you consider that the visa process might take 6 months, it can be impossible to set up housing as soon as you start the process of planning an overseas trip. Additionally, you have no way to personally vet the housing you may have found for your employees.
The Solution
Find a hotel and book a few days there for your employee. Then coordinate several housing possibilities. Your employee can stay at the hotel while checking out the various housing options in person. While your employee might not be able to find something as comfortable as home, he or she will at least have the chance to vet the locations and, most importantly, feel in control by making a choice.
How to Sell It
Be up-front about the fact that housing may be less than ideal while your employee is abroad. Temper concerns with the fact that the employee will be paid to live in another country—something most people pay outrageous amounts of money to do for short periods of time.
In the rest of the article, we’ll talk about more difficulties with sending someone abroad and how to overcome them.

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