Millions of American professionals relocate annually, with many taking on international assignments. U.S. businesses are just as excited about the potential for these global relocations, as they can lay promising groundwork for expansion and revenue gain.
Yet there are important considerations. Businesses must understand that expatriates can encounter serious safety hazards during and after relocation, and they are responsible for addressing these dangers to ensure employee safety.
Duty of care encapsulates these obligations. Both businesses and relocating employees should clearly understand what duty of care constitutes before navigating mobility strategies.
Corporate Responsibility During Employee Relocation
Duty of care, in the context of corporate mobility, is the obligation to protect those under your charge. Organizations sending teams abroad must take on this complex responsibility.
Businesses must also consider employee well-being, which includes not only physical safety but also emotional and mental wellness. Moving to a foreign country can be a stressful experience, especially when the relocation involves an entirely different culture from the origin country. Businesses should address this issue by providing comprehensive resources to help relocating employees cope with the stressors that accompany international assignments.
While there are legal obligations that companies must meet, they should go beyond what’s legally required of them for both the employees’ sake and overall success of the assignment. Relocation is an investment, and therefore providing for productivity and safety makes for protection and support of that investment.
But what does an effective duty of care strategy entail? Providing access to reliable mobility vendors is a good start. Employees moving abroad should be able to connect with mobility management companies and other vendors involved in the relocation process.
Employers should also consider offering property insurance to their relocating talent. Although this may not be a legal requirement, providing this option sends the best message about a business and its brand: We recognize what you, our employee, and your family are undertaking for the benefit of our organization, and we will do our part to allay concerns about your belongings during and after your move.
How to Find Assignment Success
Even employees who are seasoned travelers and excited about embarking on global assignments can experience anxiety, and may have trouble adapting to unique cultures and customs in the long term.
Adjustment is critical for assignment success. Employees who do not adapt well to new surroundings may underperform. Offering employees resources such as language and cross-cultural training prior to the move can dampen initial culture shock and help the employee immerse in new communities with greater ease.
Employers can also ensure their assignment policy includes provisions to address duty of care, such as:
- Evaluating medical care laws and customs in the host location, to ensure the medical insurance offered to employees and their families is sufficient.
- Protecting employees’ personal information during the relocation process.
- Providing additional benefits tailored to the assignment, such as winter-driving courses for locations in cold climates.