Tips for successful international assignments

The failure of international assignments is most commonly caused by assignees, or their families, failing to adjust to their new home.

The failure of international assignments is most commonly caused by assignees, or their families, failing to adjust to their new home.When you consider the investment in sending employees abroad, it makes sense to provide the planning and support to make the move a success, says Kevin Melton, sales and marketing director of AXA PPP International.My first piece of advice is to get your employee (and family) to have a full health check before they go. This should help reduce the chances of a serious condition being diagnosed once they are settled. It can also provide the peace of mind of a clean bill of health for the big move.
Mental wellbeing is also important. And there’s nothing like a move, be it down the street or across the world, to challenge stress levels. An assessment can not only support the employee in the move but also highlight if the reasons for the move are healthy – whether assignees are doing it for the monetary reward, the potential for a promotion, to develop their skills, or to open their personal life to new experiences. If the reason for the move is more challenging, such as getting away from a personal problem, the employee might need a bit more support once they arrive.
 24/7 telephone support from an EAP provider
Sometimes, the magnitude of the change doesn’t sink in until the assignee and their family are in their new home. Giving them access to a telephone support service where they can talk to a qualified counsellor in their own language can make a world of difference.
A trailing spouse might also need that extra bit of on- the-ground support. Don’t forget, they’ve given up their life, job and network of family and friends. Plus if they’re not going to be working, they may need a helping hand to meet new people. Encouraging them to join local expat clubs can get them on the right track.
 Offer access to an online medical record account
If a medical emergency does happen when your employee is abroad, having their medical history to hand might be important. Instead of contacting their GP back home and getting them to fax or email the information, there are many services available that allow the uploading of medical documents to a secure online portal so that, no matter where your employees are, they have access to their medical history. Getting your employee to upload their history before they go can save time later if it becomes important.
 Provide international private health insurance
Making sure your employee has fast access to medical treatment, along with the support of an insurance company which can help with languages and the local health system, can provide the reassurance your employee needs that, if something should happen, they’ll be looked after.When purchasing medical insurance, make sure you look out for some of the essentials.
  • Will the provider settle claims directly with the hospital? Avoiding payment upfront is particularly important for expatriates who don't want to be left out of pocket after their medical treatment. Larger providers such as AXA PPP International will have negotiated agreements with hospitals worldwide to offer direct settlement for eligible treatment
  • Get me out of here! Sometimes, employees need to be evacuated because the emergency treatment isn't availble locally. Chech whether evacuation cover is included in the policy, or whether you will need to pay extra for it
  • What's not included? Make sure you understand what is not covered under each policy option. All health insurance policies have some exclusions and should state what is and isn't covered under each of their healthcare options. Check with the insurer exactly what exactly can be claimed for under the policy. Some insurers don't cover for the upkeep or flare-ups caused by chronic conditions
A well-adjusted and supported family makes a happy employee who will be able to concentrate and dedicate their time to their new role. By planning and supporting your employee in this life change, you will increase the chances that the assignment, and your employee, will be a success.
AXA PPP International is an award-winning provider of international health insurance. For more information on health cover or wellbeing services, call +44 (0)1892 707984 or visit