Family support: guiding principles factsheet

A factsheet on the principles that underpin the provision of support for relocating employees and their families is now available as part of Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit. Download your free copy.

Global Mobility Toolkit: Family support
The first components in Relocate Global’s new online mobility toolkit, which provides information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas, are now available to download.
Download a global mobility factsheet here
The content of the Guiding Principles – Family Issues factsheet, which forms part of the Family and Employee Support Toolkit, includes:
  • Thought leader viewpoint
  • The need for family support
  • Dual careers and spouse/partner support
  • Educational support for children
  • Higher education
  • Pets
  • Useful contacts
  • Further reading
To keep up to date with best practice, and to gain strategic insight and operational know-how, download your free copy today.


The need for family support

Research has shown that some of the main causes of international assignment failure are related to family members being unable to adjust and manage life in their new location. Spouses and partners who are unable to work and/or fit in culturally are frequently isolated and unhappy.Children must cope with leaving friends and relatives behind, making new friends, and settling in at school. They have to get used to new teachers and, perhaps, study under a different curriculum and educational culture. Relocations domestically (that is, within the same country) also affect family relationships. Spouses/partners will need to find new jobs, and new local friendship networks must be built.Even with Skype, Facebook and other methods of communication, the physical distance between family and friends can result in loneliness. If the family is unable to adjust, there is a likelihood that the employee will be unable to progress with the assignment objectives successfully. Unhappy families create unhappy homes. Lack of family support has a detrimental effect on relocated employees’ productivity, motivation and engagement. Family support is therefore crucial if employees are to accept the position and relocate as necessary, and for the international assignment or domestic move to be a success.Family separation is a major cause of stress. If the family does not wish to move, or it is not possible for them to do so (for instance, if children are at a critical stage of their education), the decision may be taken for assignees to relocate on their own. Alternatively, they may opt to commute long distances weekly or monthly, leaving family members behind.Unaccompanied and commuter-style assignments can be damaging to family relationships. Family support is thus also critical if unaccompanied mobility is undertaken.Organisations should ensure that their family and employee support takes account of health and well-being, and that the nature of the assignment undertaken supports an appropriate work-life balance.

Dual careers and spouse/partner support

In a dual-career couple, each partner is highly qualified and pursues individual career goals. When couples are relocated abroad, the dual-career partner may be unable to gain employment as a result of:
  • Work-permit/visa restrictions
  • Lack of career/job opportunities locally
  • Qualifications not being recognised in the host location
  • Inability to speak the local language
  • Inability to compete effectively in the jobs market owing to language difficulties
There are clearly immediate financial implications of being unemployed, for the non-working partner and, as a consequence, for the family’s income. Periods of unemployment can also lead to lost promotion opportunities and reduced pension provision in the longer term. They can be psychologically damaging, as non-working partners lose confidence.Employer support for dual-career partners can include:
  • CV/résumé preparation assistance
  • Career counselling/interview training
  • Work-permit/visa assistance
  • Linking spouses with local employers/job clubs
  • Employing spouses/partners directly, if appropriate
  • Funding updating of qualifications
  • Language training
  • Linking spouses/partners into networking groups
  • Providing information on voluntary work
  • Making payments towards further education
  • Making payments towards personal endeavours (such as setting up a business)
Spouses/partners relocating domestically may also benefit from some of these interventions to help them find appropriate employment locally.
Download a global mobility factsheet here

Also in the Family and Employee Support Toolkit

Available now:Coming soon:
  • International Education – Options and Policy Trends
  • Relocating with Pets
  • Higher Education

For a full list of Global Mobility Toolkit components, and to download your free resources, visit our Global Mobility Toolkit Resource Centre page.

For information on sponsorship opportunities, call Fiona Murchie, managing editor, on +44 (0)1892 891334, or email A range of aligned products and resources will be available from the new Relocate Global e-commerce store, coming later this year.

Related Articles