How to help globally mobile employees cope with COVID-19

Managing self-isolation in a host location and maintaining physical and mental wellbeing alongside work and family commitments can present specific challenges for international assignees.

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With wellbeing high on the talent management and employee engagement agendas, the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity for employers to step in and support their globally mobile assignees, as well as their domestic workforce. “This is a challenging time for many, and being overseas can magnify those challenges,” says Sarah Dennis, head of international, Towergate Health & Protection. “Supporting employees working abroad at this time has never been more important.” 

Balancing family commitments with personal wellbeing

Loneliness and being unable to return home can be a particular strain where assignees have elderly parents, while having family in country gives assignees an added responsibility.It is therefore particularly important that lines of communication are kept open, explains Sarah Dennis. “Little and often is the order of the day, just touching base to see how people are will be hugely valued at this time.”With the situation changing rapidly, overseas employees need to be kept updated around regional and in-country guidelines, relevant employer policy and the support available for them. The uncertainty and unprecedented nature of the situation can also be extremely challenging for mental wellbeing, says Towergate, adding that for many, the stress and anxiety will be one of the biggest factors they need to deal with.

Supporting mental health

“Overseas workers don’t have the familiarity of all that they’re used to around them in the same way that those who work in the UK do,” says Sarah Dennis. “Supporting their mental wellbeing is paramount to help anyone working abroad through this time.”Global employee assistance programmes available 24/7 and employee networks can be a great support to help people dealing with such an uncertain time. Employers can also monitor the situation and keep up to date with the latest guidance and directives from reputable sources, including the World Health Organisation.

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