In an increasingly global world, companies continue to see the benefits of sending employees abroad on expat placements. While this can be a rewarding – and profitable – experience for both the individual and the organisation, it can also come with unique challenges that can impact an expatriate’s overall wellbeing.
In order to ensure the success and satisfaction of expat employees, companies must take a proactive role in supporting their financial, physical, and mental health. In this blog, we will explore how companies can better support expat wellbeing in these three crucial areas.
A focus on financial wellbeing
- Comprehensive Compensation Packages
Companies should provide competitive compensation packages for expatriates that account for the higher cost of living and potential tax implications in the host country. This includes not only a base salary but also allowances for housing, education, health costs, and transportation.
- Financial Education
It can be difficult to navigate the financial frameworks of a new country. Companies should consider offering individual financial education programs to help expats manage their finances abroad. This can include guidance on tax planning, investment strategies, and currency exchange management.
- Familial Support
Expats who relocate with their families may face additional pressures on their finances, especially if relocating to a country with different state provision or higher daily costs. There is a wealth of support available which companies can tap into, from private medical provision to settlement concierge services.
- Emergency Fund Assistance
It’s important that expats have easy access to emergency savings. As part of a financial education conversation, companies should encourage expatriates to establish and maintain emergency funds and assist setting up these funds.
Facilitate good physical wellbeing
- Healthcare Support
Companies can provide comprehensive health insurance coverage for expats and their families, ensuring they have access to quality healthcare in the host country – at the same level (or above) their home country. It’s also important to assist expats in understanding the local healthcare system and how to navigate it.
- Nutrition and Exercise
Moving country can disrupt routines, and it can take time to adjust to different dietary options. Companies can offer a wide range of benefits that provide support to expats, such as discounted gym memberships, inclusive wellness programmes, meal plan access and hosted nutrition workshops.
- Work-Life Balance
If there is a high amount of performance-related pressure, companies should encourage a healthy work-life balance by respecting working hours and promoting flexible work arrangements when possible. It could be worth reviewing annual leave allocations to ensure expats have enough free time to explore their new location and manage personal commitments.
Support for mental wellbeing
- Mental Health Management
Including mental health support in benefits packages is a good way of encouraging employees to better manage their mental health. This can encompass access to therapy, counselling, or stress management programs. Companies should also ensure that mental health provision is included in an overview of locally-available services.
- Cultural Sensitivity Training
It can be challenging to adjust to a new culture with different social norms. Companies can help expats prepare for these challenges through targeted cultural sensitivity training; this can help them understand and adapt to local customs – reducing culture shock and feelings of isolation.
- Develop Colleague Support Networks
Creating peer support networks for expats can help them adjust to their host country – and potentially reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. It doesn’t have to be complex; creating a buddy system can help provide 1-2-1 support for expats in their new environment.
Supporting expat wellbeing is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic move for companies; happy and healthy expatriate employees are more likely to be productive, engaged, and committed to their organisations. By addressing the financial, physical, and mental health needs of expats, companies can create an environment where employees thrive both personally and professionally.
Ultimately, the success of an expatriate assignment is not just about the work performed but also about the quality of life experienced abroad. Companies that invest in their expat employees’ wellbeing reap the rewards of a diverse and motivated workforce that contributes positively to the organisation’s growth and success. It’s a win-win.