Orienting Expats

Talents are best placed when they are matched to their expertise and the roles to be delivered. At times, it may not be in the same place and require bridging the gap. This relocation from the home country to the host country is administered under the Expat management. These relocations are scheduled for a fixed duration. The durations are decided by the business requirement aligned with the taxing and legal guidelines. A well defined process of orienting the expats is required to mould them for success before they land in the host country.

Orientation begins with toning professional prerequisites for the role and tasks to be delivered to that of the expertise and behaviour of the candidate. This is primarily done during the interviews and initial introductory rounds. During this phase the skill sets are matched to the right fit. The values of the talent stand as the deal breaker. Every candidate may want to work in an international assignment, but the coping skills would vary. The capability to adapt in a different environment depends on the way the assignment is perceived. Often the talents are too dazed about the program to see the challenges of surviving in the new environment. Certain times the values might be conflicting with the host environment. For e.g.: When a talent working in a US environment, gets deputed to Japan, they would experience different perceptions. Both the environment would be highly competitive yet cultural values would vary. As mentioned in Sheena Iyengar’s book, The Art of Choosing, a US environment may require individuals to make their choices where as a Japanese environment would teach the individual how to make choices. In a work environment, such behavioural learning stands quintessential. The professional orientation is coupled with technical and role-based training in the parent country. These training may include video conferences to bring in a live experience which is often followed by a business trip to ensure greater feasibility. By the time the talent visits the host country, the knowledge of the work environment is inbuilt in them to avoid every shock.

Financial and legal knowledge are deep seated in the Expat Orientation Program. It includes details about emoluments offered to the talent and the taxation levied on it. This includes the salary offered, bonuses, amenities provided including housing, transportation, insurance and security if required. The option of cash benefits in place of the housing might be offered. Though, it helps the expats to be provided with infrastructural support where they may find it difficult to arrange it on their own. Legal orientation includes the inputs about the immigration policies, contact details of the embassy and other authorities if required.  An elaborate explanation is made on the legal bindings to be followed by the expat in the host country along with the confidentiality and every other undertaking with the employer.

This professional grooming is followed by cultural inputs. It begins with information about the new country followed by the likes and dislikes. Food and weather becomes a point for education if it is at variance. This comprises extreme change of temperature, from an equatorial country to a place with sub-zero temperature. The food habits remain a concern when the talent is allergic or culturally inclined to eat differently than what is offered in the host country. For e.g.: if a vegan needs to relocate to a country where the concept of vegan might not be prevalent. The behavioural training includes, openness, sociable, high tolerance for ambiguity and remaining non-judgemental about the new environment. Language proficiency is valued.

A successful expat program strengthens the business in different countries. It further grooms mentors in the company who entail leadership across the globe for the company. The concept of global village may blur the boundaries and make transitions seamless, yet working live in different environment adds on to the professional maturity and excellence.

  • PS Dhingra

    Cultural grooming is very much important for expats. the process of cultural inputs is not a short term affair. Rather, it is a long time process. Regular training programs are necessary for inputs to understand cultural diversity that not only includes habits, concepts, language of the natives of the country concerned, but also about need for showin great respect for the religion & customs. The diversity training programs are not only necessary to be conducted intermitently for the expats, rather for various ethnic and cultural groups, including the natives of the country concerned also to enable them to understand each other properly in diverse cultures and to work in close liaison and cooperation with each other for the succss of the organization for which their services are hired.