It’s no secret that employees on assignment can be impacted mentally, physically and emotionally. They are often introduced to a new culture, with new faces, new foods and new working styles. However, according to the KPMG survey mentioned in this article, over a third of employers do not offer any kind of cross-cultural training to their employees and/or their families. With the high cost of an assignment, companies could be setting themselves up for a very expensive failure, not to mention the potential loss of a skilled employee altogether. 

We’ve witnessed an increase in focus on mental health for expats over the last few years, but it seems that some companies still aren’t understanding the full impact that language and cross-cultural training could have on their employee’s mental health while on assignment or relocating internationally. Anxiety, stress and depression are among the most common mental health issues reported by expats. These issues lead to workplace disengagement, job dissatisfaction and higher levels of absenteeism.

Employee readiness is an additional factor that should be highly considered and should be evaluated prior to an official assignment or relocation offer. If the employee is not the right fit for the assignment or move, there’s a good chance that it will be uncovered in the evaluation. If the employee does pass the evaluation, the spouse or partner that will be joining them should also be considered for an assessment.

Why evaluate the spouse or partner? According to the 2018 Relocating Partner Survey, 71% of assignments fail due to an unhappy partner. There are many ways to provide support to an employee’s spouse or partner, with language training and cross-cultural training as the top benefits to consider. These benefits are alleged to be the most impactful for the employee and spouse/partner and can be the difference between an assignment success or fail. The Survey Report claims that the average investment for language training for a partner is $4,505, which is quite insignificant when considering the overall investment that a company makes into a long-term assignment.

Failing to support expats and their families before, during and after their assignment or relocation can negatively impact an organization and their bottom line. Providing the support that they need in order to be successful is just a small, yet impactful piece of the overall investment that a company makes into an overseas assignment or relocation.

To learn more about expat mental health, checkout our whitepaper, Exploring Expat Mental Health.