Top investments for successful international assignments

Budgets may be tight, but employers can expect to see a return on investment if they are willing to invest in their international employees. Here, AXA PPP healthcare examines the investments that employers can undertake to help to ensure successful international assignments.

Budgets may be tight, but employers can expect to see a return on investment if they are willing to invest in their international employees. Here, AXA PPP healthcare examines the investments that employers can undertake to help to ensure successful international assignments. Employees working abroad play a crucial role in increasing global organisations&#x; expertise, market share and revenue in host locations. However, many expatriated employees feel their employers haven&#x;t done enough to facilitate their relocation.In recessionary times, many employers are choosing to cut relocation packages, but this can be a false economy. If employers spend a little more helping employees settle into a new location, they will ultimately get a greater return for their investment. A settled employee will become productive more quickly and is unlikely to leave an assignment prematurely.Investments that can help minimise the stress of relocation and ensure an employee adapts include:Visa provision. Organising visas can be complex in some countries and it may be helpful to enlist the services of a specialist agency.Cost of living assessment. Is the cost of living in the employee&#x;s host location comparable to their current level of expenditure? If it&#x;s significantly higher, their salary and benefit package must reflect this.Risk assessment. Employees travelling alone or with a family may have concerns about the safety of certain areas. An assessment will determine any threats and whether security measures should be put in place.Language and cross-cultural training. This will help international assignees integrate and gain a better understanding of local customs and business dynamics. Trailing spouses and children should also be given language tuition.Relocation agent. Agents offer a variety of services including assistance with renting a home, finding suitable school places, familiarisation tours and removal management. Outsourcing these services may help employees get settled more quickly.Pre-assignment trip. A short trip will help an employee and their family acclimatise to a new location. It&#x;s an opportunity for an employee to look around the area, choose a neighbourhood, view possible properties and purchase a car.Healthcare. Many countries stipulate that foreign nationals must have a minimum level of health cover provided by a licensed organisation. But, no matter what the healthcare regulations of the host country, international private medical insurance will help ensure employees are fit to attend work.Accommodation allowance. This should cover costs such as hotel expenses while permanent accommodation is organised. Accommodation costs can vary greatly, with Hong Kong, Tokyo, Moscow, New York and London topping the tables as the world&#x;s most expensive cities.Shipping and disturbance allowances. Shipping an employee&#x;s possessions to their host country is likely to incur a cost. A disturbance allowance will help an employee meet the cost of setting up home.Flight allowance. International assignees will have to cope with long periods of separation from their relatives in the UK. However, offering employees and their families provision for at least one return flight to their home country every year can help. Flight costs should also be covered if an employee needs to take compassionate leave.AXA PPP International has been looking after the health insurance needs of expatriates for over 40 years. For expert support to guide you through this important purchase, call +44 (0)1892 707984.The Spring 2013 issue of Re:locate, out in March, will have a special feature on emerging markets.