The number one reason that executives decline an expatriate assignment is a concern about ________.

There are number of ways in which organizations can do to improve international assignments for all concerned. To lower the incidence of failure and raise productivity and motivation among expatriates, individuals and organizations can take a number of steps.

Before moving overseas, prospective expatriates begin to make certain adjustments. They try to determine the ways in which their work and personal life will change, they try to prepare for those changes and, when possible, they make adjustments before arriving in the host country. Determining what and how to adjust is based both on an individual's past experiences and on perceptions of where gaps exist in his or her abilities, skills, and knowledge. But many times there is also a gap in the individual’s and/or organization’s perception and ability to see what is actually needed or missing for them to carry out a successful assignment abroad.

1. Changing Business Conditions 

The number one reason for assignment failure is changing business conditions, 63% in Cartus Global mobility policy & practices survey stated. That encompasses everything from declining business and failed performance to legal obstacles and internal organizational changes.

2. Inability of the Family to adjust 

61% listed inability of the family to adjust as the number-two reason assignments failure in the same Cartus survey. Spouse and children are experiencing a tougher time at the destination than they could have imagined beforehand. Many times this is due to lack of sufficient support from the assignees employer.

3. Dual-Career Issues

Dual-Career challenges are a major issue for organizations experiencing early returns of assignees. According to Permits Foundation 21% of the organizations said that is was the main reason for failed assignments, while a significant minority, 29%, did not even know the reason.

4. Cross-Cultural Understanding

Failing to adjust to the local culture and environment for the assignee and accompanying family is a stress factor pushing for assignment failure. Not feeling confident in the new culture and not understanding the cultural gaps and differences compared to home pushes assignment failure over time. Only 38% offer cross-cultural training to the assignees and family while a significant part, 35%, does not offer cross-cultural training at all as standard according to KMPG. 

5. Language Training

Understanding and getting around with the local language highly improves the sense of feeling localized. Language and cross-cultural training remain included under the majority of organizations’ standard policies, but overall only 40% of the organizations featured in KMPG’s Global assignment Policies and Practices 2015 are said to offer language training as standard. A significant minority of 23% does not offer language training at all.

Global Mobility and HR leaders, here is your toolbox for developing a more successful international assignment and talent management program.

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