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How can HR and corporate managers assist employees overseas?

In this increasingly global business world, the advantages of working abroad are often emphasized. Indeed, it is an invaluable experience for an employee to experience different cultures, enhance their resumes, and brush up on their language skills. On the contrary, however, the downsides to sending employees to a foreign country are not discussed as frequently. Living away from home countries with limited social ties can be daunting and challenging to many people, especially for those who have pre-existing psychological issues. As such, it is imperative for HRs to address the specific risks faced by international assignees in the first place by means such as adopting a medical clearance process to ensure that the placement is successful.

Today’s Pacific Prime article highlights how HRs can work with employees to maintain their physical and mental wellness before, during, and after they post the job.

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Before you post the job

Before you even start putting a job ad, there are a number of factors you should take into account. First and foremost, is it absolutely necessary to send an employee overseas? Not only does it involve extra travel and accommodation costs, but it also requires a whole deal of preparation. Hence, there should be a strong reason that shows that the position cannot be filled through a local hire.

Secondly, no matter whether the trip is short or long, it is every organization’s duty to conduct a pre-posting assessment to ensure the destination country is suitable for the placement, as some countries may be politically unstable, have a high risk of terrorist attacks, or have restrictions on certain types of medication.

While you are choosing the right employee

In this phase, thorough preparation and assessment of suitability for the post are strongly recommended. HRs should assess the mental health and physical wellbeing of the employee to ascertain that they are the right person for the placement.

Besides, if it is a long stay, education programmes and preparatory training on potential travel dangers and local cultures before departure should be provided as it can significantly enhance the subsequent performance of the employee.

After you post the job

Granted, HRs should check to see if the assignee can adapt to the local working environment and keep everyone in different offices updated on the work progress. They should maintain regular contact across various offices to help keep the employee in the loop and abreast of key developments so that they won’t feel cut off from the other colleagues.

However, short of work-related issues, life outside of work should not be underestimated. Oftentimes when a placement is unsuccessful, it is because troubles arise in their spare time.

A recent survey has found that only one-third of businesses offer specific mental health support for workers abroad to alleviate the stress, loneliness, and anxieties of their staff.

One way to mitigate such risks is to invite the employee to social events and gatherings held by the overseas team. Furthermore, a communication mechanism should be set up so that the employee can seek assistance from either office when they need to. Finally, companies can even work with international assistance companies to grant immediate access to the most suitable support, which can be very difficult for the employee to obtain in another country.

After the employee comes back

It is crucial to arrange a follow-up meeting after the employee has returned to the home country so that they can voice any concerns or difficulties they have encountered abroad and share their experience. HRs can learn from the feedback while the employee will feel that their opinions are valued in the organization.

Insurance is a must-have protection

Miles away from their home countries, overseas assignees are vulnerable to a vast number of risks and dangers. As such, this is imperative that businesses secure a well-structured insurance policy to protect their employees against the costs of potential medical conditions, travel mishaps, and liability issues. After all, international assignees are usually highly skilled personnel and talents, who can easily jump ship if they find that the company is not providing adequate protection and support they deserve to have.

Medical expenses could be more expensive in certain countries such as the United States, where, without insurance, staff may have to foot a hefty bill out-of-pocket if they fall sick. And in some countries such as Dubai, health insurance is mandatory before anyone can be granted a working visa.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to group insurance as it varies with the duration and destination of the placement, the nature of the job, and the budget of the organization. Thus, it pays for businesses to engage the service of an independent insurance brokerage and seek advice on how to structure and tailor an insurance policy that best meets their needs.

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With over 19 years of experience and nine offices across the globe, Pacific Prime is an established insurance brokerage that aims to simplify insurance. Armed with in-depth insurance knowledge and close work relationships with major insurers, our team of specialists has been consistently delivering award-winning services throughout the insurance journey of our clients. Make use of our online quotation system to get a free quote today. Or talk with our advisors for impartial, professional insurance advice and/or a plan comparison now.

Anthony Chan