4 new challenges for HRM international

Htel Serviced Apartments is one of the largest serviced apartment providers in the Netherlands. Now that labour market for international mobile employees is changing rapidly, they conducted research to the modern challenges for HRM International. Today, they share their findings with us. A key finding: Where your employees will stay is remarkably important regarding the question if they will stay.

Handshake after a deal
In a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (2014) about the future of work, it is demonstrated that the labour market for international mobile employees is changing rapidly. This means that challenges for HRM international in this ‘global nomads’ market are also changing at the same speed. Only if they match this speed they will attract and retain international employees in the increasingly competitive international labour market.

1. Duty of care means care is your duty

For expats, getting used to living in countries that are like their own is more difficult than is usually assumed2. This means that HRM international needs to show extra care for international employees. This means more than the legal ‘duty of care’ requirements. In a study, it was shown that expats are less positive of the support they get in establishing their lives5. Only formal requirements as visa, work permits and social security are taken care of by employers5. For instance, responsibility for housing should go beyond referring them to an expats housing agency. This is especially the case in the first year5. In later years, social and housing requirements are going to be more like the locals and peer groups wishes3. This means HRM international should work together with specialized expats housing organizations and the international employee. This cooperation will help the expat to get their accommodation and social life on the road.

2. Housing and location choice is increasingly more important in employee retention

In the international labour market, even cities compete in their attractiveness for international employees. The appreciation of the international employees and especially that of their family or partners is very important in the decision if they will stay. Retention is going to be an increasing important issue in the highly competitive international market1. HRM international cannot influence everything. However, they can influence a housing location that best suits the employee and their family. An indication of how important this is shows a study about why employees would refuse an international assignment. Family concerns rate a high 81%2. This can also be the case if a family is not travelling along. They want to be sure that their partner has a reliable, safe and quiet place to stay. Therefore, the city’s residential areas will be preferred over city centre when it comes to housing. HRM international should pay attention to both employee and family requirements for housing.

3. Meet the unexpected: location preferences: quiet, mixed, green and cosy

Often the international work is seen as glamourous work in the middle of the busy urban city centre life. A study in the Netherlands showed that this might only be the case for a minority of single workers in the creative sector3. But even for them the most named keyword on preferences for a housing neighbourhood were quiet, mixed, green and cosy. This shows that housing location in a more residential area will probably be the best choice. Elements as nearby shops, medical facilities, international schools and public transport are seen as valuable. Being able to engage in social activities with locals and other expats are also important. The same study showed that individual preferences vary a lot. Location/quality of life is an important issue for international employees in 36% of all cases2. A bad housing choice might influence a decision for a career change or results in a negative work-life balance. This means that HRM international should take in account individual preferences on what a good housing location would be.

4. A positive work-life balance ensures employee’s productivity and retention

One study states that ‘in addition to cultural, income and psychological bumps arising from relocation, if life at home is not so easy, what to say of the uprooted and ‘flexible’ settings experienced in alien lands’2. More often than will be admitted international workers encounter a lot of problems accommodating to their new situation. The problems differ with age and social situation but especially in the first-year attention should be given to their work-life balance. A negative work life balance affects employee’s productivity and retention. It is shown that relieving international employees of worries on daily problems is very helpful. A study showed that 71% of international employees preferred furnished housing, relieving them from the task of decorating their home4. Furnished serviced apartments based on full service provide private individual housing that relieves employees from a lot of day to day worries which will leave time for work and forming a positive social environment.

HRM International

HRM international should not restrict itself to corporate responsibilities. Also, the responsibilities, that are mostly seen as personal, should be taken in account for international employees. Both for attraction, productivity and retention of international employees this HRM involvement is essential. The housing location is an important issue that needs more professional attention than is usually the case. Partnerships with specialized organizations in this field, like Htel Serviced Apartments, is positive and keeps the attention to the four challenges that are necessary for HRM international in retaining their international employees.More information about Htel Serviced Apartments can be found here.References:
  1. pwc.com/people (2012) “Talent mobility 2020 and beyond”
  2. IRSR International Review of Social Research: Vol 3.1 (2013) ‘The work and life of corporate expatriates’
  3. Boterman& Sleutjes (2014)“Stated residential preferences of higher educated workers” University of Amsterdam
  4. J. Koeleman (2014) “Expatriates housing choice behaviour” TIAS NIMBAS, Eindhoven
  5. Buiskool & Boer (2008) “Feeling at home” Research voor Beleid, Leiden

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