An expatriate employee is someone who lives and works in outside of their native country at the behest of the company they work for. These employees can have a difficult time maximizing their productivity because of the problems that come with adjusting to another country. These problems can be different depending on cultural upbringing.
For example, the five hardest adjustments for Employees from the United States have are an inability for their spouse to adjust, Manager’s inability to adjust, other family problems, manager’s personal or emotional maturity, and an inability to cope with larger overseas responsibilities, in that order (Hill & Hult, 2019).
But Japanese employees have problems with inability to cope with large overseas expendabilities, difficulty with a new environment, personal emotional problems, lack of technical competence, and inability for a spouse to adjust in that order (Hill & Hult, 2019). As you can see there is some overlap but the issues are generally different with different levels of the problems being caused. Regardless of the cultural difference these problems are usually cause by three things, unclear expectations, learning a new organization, and under-utilization of overseas experience (Vilet, 2017).
Often times management will be very gung ho about the importance of international experience before the assignment but won’t state clear goals of what kind of experience they want the employees to get. This not only causes problems while overseas but management often has a different story when an employee returns making employees feel unvalued. Speaking of unvalued having to work internationally means having to learn to operate in a new organization structure.
While the company is the same often operations in other countries are different so employees have to learn fast. Evan if they are adaptable and successful with the new organization they often return to find their coworkers have received favorable treatment or even a raise or promotion. This makes them again feel like their work overseas isn’t valued. Management often doesn’t grasp that in many cases coming back the employee’s home country is usually a downgrade in responsibility then when they were overseas (Vilet, 2017). Firms can mitigate these issues by being up front about what expatriate employment means for the firm.
There should be training in place for employees to adjust to a new country and the new circumstances of the organization the employee will be joining. There should also be an upfront incentive that is clear upon their return to their hope country if requirements are met while oversees. From an outside perspective companies should work to create social communities in their overseas organizations to help spouses and families adjust to a new environment and community as easily as possible.
These factors will allow employees to feel more comfortable and satisfied in the long run which will ultimately increase employee loyalty and create a stronger firm in the long run.
Hill, C. W., & Hult, G. T. (2019). International Business. McGraw-Hill Education.
Vilet, J. (2017, August 22). Why Can’t Organizations Retain Their Expatriate Employees? Retrieved from https://www.tlnt.com/why-cant-organizations-retain-their-expatriate-employees/