The intrigue of working as an expatriate employee may have lost some of its shine in recent years, causing challenges for some employers in getting their employees to relocate or travel abroad. International events such as the recent terror attacks that occurred in the Moscow subway system, drug war shootings in Mexicoearthquakes in several regions and other events are making some employees reluctant to test the overseas waters. How can employers and managers help employees carefully consider international assignments and assist with their safety in another country?  

A walk across the pond: Providing safe stepping stones for employees working overseas

The intrigue of working as an expatriate employee may have lost some of its shine in recent years, causing challenges for some employers in getting their employees to relocate or travel abroad. International events such as the recent terror attacks that occurred in the Moscow subway system, drug war shootings in Mexico, earthquakes in several regions and other events are making some employees reluctant to test the overseas waters. How can employers and managers help employees carefully consider international assignments and assist with their safety in another country? 

"It's becoming increasingly important for employers need to ensure safety for employees working abroad and for local employees who travel overseas," says Jennifer Piliero, senior product manager Ceridian Health & Productivity Solutions. "Organizations need to rethink the whole nature of operating in a global economy and the benefits they offer to employees who work or travel abroad." 

Geography lesson 
Every country is unique and has its own attractions and challenges. Before making the decision to travel or relocate internationally, employees should learn about the host country by reading books, exploring the Internet, watching videos or talking to others who have lived there. They must also have a general sense of geography, climate and culture as well as an accurate assessment of their safety and security. 

Ceridian Health & Productivity Solutions offers the following guidance for your company's expatriates who are working or traveling abroad in today's times of uncertainty: 

  • Suggest employees register with the embassy or consulate office to ensure that the U.S. government knows they are there and how they can be reached in the event of an emergency.
  • Suggest expatriates make connections with other expatriates through bicultural organizations, a chamber of commerce, community centers or clubs.
  • Educate expatriates about the host country, including history and present-day issues and challenges (good resources include the embassy, consulate and the U.S. State Department.
  • Help expatriates understand the culture code of the host country, including expected behaviors and the "unspoken" rules of the country where they are living.
  • Offer Web sites to stay informed and suggest bookmarking the Web site URL for the appropriate embassy or consulate office, which typically posts important information during a political crisis or other type of emergency.
  • Encourage employees to establish a network of friends and professional colleagues who are familiar with local resources.
  • Make sure they stay in touch with loved ones back home and that they have the expatriate employee's regular phone numbers, e-mail address, emergency phone numbers and a packet of copies of their personal papers and information.
  • Advise them to carry an ID or passport and emergency contact numbers at all times.
  • Ask expatriates to avoid public demonstrations and American gathering spots, and, when walking, avoid shortcuts, low-lit areas and back alleys when walking.
  • Advise expatriates to report to the local police odd or suspicious activity related to them and their safety, near American vehicles, workplaces or entertainment spots.
  • Advise expatriate employees to keep annual health and other exams current and have their health insurance identity card and claim forms in a secure, accessible place.

Overseeing overseas 
Managing people across borders, cultures and time zones is another area to consider. Working with multicultural teams and people of different backgrounds offers a broader range of ideas and perspectives and can lead to better business results. Doing business around the clock and across the globe also can boost productivity. However, managing a global team can have its challenges, which can be overcome if organization leaders focus on listening, clarifying, experimenting with different ways of getting things done, and building trust and respect among team members. 

"Our global marketplace opens a window for organizations and it's important to know what's available for placing and managing their expatriate employees," adds Piliero. "A host of services and benefits are available, and this is where an expatriate service solution can be critical to an organization's international business strategy." 

Research has indicated that a key factor in the success of an expatriate assignment is the extent and nature of the support provided to the expatriate, spouses and family members. Ceridian's expatriate program, which is designed for client companies who have U.S. employees (and their families) overseas, can address the varied needs of our clients' expatriate population and assist our clients in attaining benefit equity across the global workforce. Ceridian's expatriate program capabilities also include providing ongoing telephonic EAP support, global resources, information and consultation to assist expatriate employees and their family members in addressing issues that arise while on foreign assignment. 

When it comes to high visibility disasters such as an earthquake in China or floods in the Caribbean to the day-to-day challenges facing Ceridian's multinational customers, Ceridian is committed to a speedy and professional response, providing effective and consistent care around the globe. Ceridian Multinational EAP and Work-Life services can make the same positive difference that our EAP delivers in the United States and Canada for individuals and their employers -- decreased turnover, reduced benefit costs and improved employee productivity and focus. 

Getting ahead of the game in a global world requires intelligent solutions. Find more about these and other solutions by contacting your Ceridian representative or exploring this Web site.