Exploring peer-to-peer support: an innovative – and essential – expat safety net

Relocation is not all policy and compliance. How many of us truly pay attention to those spaces – both physical and mental – in-between home and host locations for international assignees and their families?

International assignments are costly and critical to our businesses. As employers we are increasingly looking for ways to engage with our globally mobile talent to support performance, retention and assignment success.What more can we do to boost employee experience and engagement will be one of the topics for discussion at next month’s Festival of Global People.Watch highlights from the 2019 Festival:

Leveraging insight

Head of Business Solutions Theresa Häfner and consultant Lindsay Lydon from social community platform and business services provider InterNations Business Solutions are among the experienced speakers and panellists participating in the two-day Festival.“For us, the Festival of Global People is an exciting opportunity to meet and exchange knowledge with like-minded people so we can help people and their families move in the best way possible,” says Theresa Haefner. “It’s about bridging gaps, solving the challenges and making assignments successful.” “It’s great HR has a seat at the top table now and professionals are in a position to really influence and be part of the conversations around strategy,” adds Lindsay Lydon. “The Festival of Global People will be an amazing opportunity to share all our collective knowledge, and improve the experience of international hires and business outcomes.” 

Why the social is important to the global

Lindsay and Theresa will be drawing on InterNation’s comprehensive Expat Insider data and insights from hundreds of conversations with international HR and in-house global mobility managers around the world.They will be examining the role of peer-to-peer empowerment and social integration in this more connected, global age where employee engagement has never been more important. Linking the shift from traditional “white-glove” treatment for expatriates to today’s preference to “go it alone” with lump-sum payments or local-plus packages with the blurring of the boundaries between work and life, Lindsay says people’s expectations of overseas assignments now are different to what they were in the past.Across all demographics, not just Millennials and Generations Y and Z, people want more authentic international assignments where they can experience life locally and feel like they are making a difference. Key to this is making connections and integrating into their new communities – both in work and leisure settings. Yet research and experience show that many companies are underestimating the impact of the social side of an international assignment. “Our survey showed over 60% of people suffer through not having adequate support for social integration,” says Lindsay. “It is far more important than many companies give credit for.”

Adding some soft support to the harder benefits

“There is still this focus on visas and elements like that, which remain regarded by many organisations as the core of most expat packages,” continues Lindsay. “However, research and experience suggest there needs to be much more focus on aspects like peer-to-peer support throughout the assignment lifecycle, including at the repatriation stage and afterwards where it’s still common to feel ‘abroad’ in your home country.“Networks and services like ours make it possible to learn more about where, when and what assignees and their families are looking for advice on so we can support them more effectively.”“It’s a great time for companies, in-house global mobility experts and international HR teams to be asking themselves ‘what more can we do to align what we do with our assignees’ and company’s strategic goals better,” concludes Theresa.“An international assignment is a huge investment. Focusing more on peer-to-peer support is something concrete companies can do to free up HR and global mobility team’s time, deliver better returns on assignment investments and reduce costs. 


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