Soft Landings for International Families
On-boarding is about people. Real people. Not personas. Not stereotypical, non-existing role-models of perfect “Global Citizens”. A smooth registration process and a perfect entry into your company’s master data system is not enough to make people think “hey, I was registered well – now life is going to be fantastic in this country”!
Before you ask a future employee to sign an employment agreement, you should arrange a meeting with his/her spouse and talk to them about their needs and expectations. What are their expectations upon arrival in their new country? Have they lived abroad before? Will the spouse be joining at all? How old are the kids? If joining, will the spouse be looking for a job?
Make sure you get a good picture of the person or family that you are about to on-board to your country and ensure they have a level of expectations that can be met by you, your company and the systems surrounding you.
As soon as the employment agreement is signed you as a manager and/or HR professional have should start planning the on-boarding process and provide the relocating family with as much information as possible.
By following these 3 steps, you will be well on your way:
1: Timeline on compliance topics
Be pragmatic about compliance topics. Prepare a visual timeline showing how, where and when things need to happen related to immigration, registration with the local authorities, application for tax card and social security number, opening a bank account, converting driver’s license and other necessary formalities that just need to be in order. Allow your employee time off to fix the basic registrations.
2: Basic settling-in
Make sure your new employee and family are welcomed in a good and safe home when first arriving. Washing machines and other domestic equipment do not necessarily work the same way in all countries, so what you may take as a given, may not be considered a given for the newcomers. In case the family is placed in temporary accommodation, you will also need to consider if they will be able to find something permanent by themselves or if they need help.
If a family has children, you should provide information about the applicable school/childcare facilities in due time before they leave the home country so the children can have as seamless an entry as possibly into the new school.
Encourage the family to start on local language training as quickly as possible and make sure they know how to find the most important places such as work(!), school/kindergarten, hospitals and supermarkets.
Finally, help the family help themselves! Provide information in writing so they have it available at all times.
3: Soft landing: Enjoying day-to day life
What does it take start a new life in a new country? This step is very difficult to approach academically without having tried it in person. One thing is knowing what “milk” is called in the local language, but which milk do you choose when you stand in the supermarket and they offer 10 different brands? Should you eat the fish on your plate with or without the head? Where do you go to catch the bus. What is expected of you when your child is invited for a birthday party at school? Many companies do not focus on the family’s day-to-day life experiences, but this is really where the decision of staying or leaving is made.
“The importance of prioritizing soft-landing solutions within the mobility strategies of any company is that the employee’s household will be set up faster, enabling the worker and the spouse to focus on other relevant matters as the newly acquired position or job seeking for the later. Any person has the ability to adapt to a new environment, but how hard and painful that process was can be a decisive factor when choosing whether or not to call this new place their home”, says Daniela Trifiletti, CEO of My Danish Family
When planning on-boarding of your new employee, be realistic about the available resources. Also, keep in mind that every person relocating will need time to become familiar with the environment. Be prepared to answer more private questions as your new employee will have many questions during the first few months.
If you are not an expert in supporting international on-boarding or do not have the time it takes, then be fair to the people it concerns and provide them with professional services. Finding a great provider who can help you is not an easy task. There are many things to be considered and you want to trust that your provider knows exactly what needs to be done to also make you shine as an employer who takes care of your employees!
SlaterConsult provides strategic and practical support on Global Mobility for companies and international families. We cooperate with top relocation specialists worldwide.
Daniela Trifiletti is a Colombian-born expatriate living with her Danish husband in Denmark. My Danish Family provides soft-landing solutions for international families.