The Assignee Experience: What are the Moments That Matter?

Panellists from SETTLEto, PwC and Société Générale discussed the moments that matter during an assignment lifecycle at the FEM Sydney Chapter on 1 November.

Go to the profile of Aysegul Kayahan
Nov 03, 2017

Sydney Chapter Meeting on the 1st November 2017  was titled “The Assignee Experience: What are the Moments That Matter?” and hosted by PwC.

Moving internationally for work can be one of the most phenomenal professional and personal experiences an individual can have. The experience can enrich their lives in many ways. However, it can also present challenges. Whilst individuals navigate through today’s evolving global business environment, organisations are faced with conflicting pressures ranging from digital advancements, a diversifying workforce, talent retention, a changing regulatory environment, cost control pressures and employee wellbeing.

The Sydney Chapter hosted a panel discussion with a panel of mobility professionals who shared their personal experiences across multiple relocation and settlement experiences rather than what they do day to day in their roles.  . 

The panel discussion was led by Kathryn Osborn of PwC and the panellists were:

  • Sharon Swift, CEO, SETTLEto    
  • Dexter Tang, Senior Consultant, PwC
  • Kate O’Sullivan, HR & Corporate Services Manager – Société Générale

What followed was a lively and entertaining discussion with the panellists sharing their thoughts, expectations, experiences and inviting us to see things from the expat perspective with lots of humour thrown in. The live polling of audience opinion led  to some interesting take aways for all involved.

See the slide deck for more information on the questions asked.

These were under 4 major headings:

  1. Be clear on the deal
  2. Set up for success
  3. Make it easier
  4. Create value from the experience

What was obvious from the discussion was that there needed to be an alignment of expectations between home and host, employee and the GM team they were interacting with. The importance of timely discussion, sticking to a plan and keeping everyone informed throughout the process, especially if things change from the original discussion. Transparent milestones a must.  All  the compliance is happening in the background and on it’s own schedule but emotions at play because candidate is not told things enough in advance, which is not good for the employee. Exciting and stressful at the same time, need to respect this. The employee experience is important in terms of productivity, loyalty, retention and so on. Employee empowerment was discussed, ownership of the process is in itself empowering.  A blend of high tech and high touch support was the most desirable approach. 

More than 20% leave the organisation after 2 years of returning from assignment and in some cases over 60% (depending on the survey).  What was not clear in these numbers was the deeper data, the “why”. HR and GM need to look for these deeper reasons.  The repatriated employee has changed, is probably looking for more challenges and does not want to slot back in where they left.  The organisation may have changed.  There will be a multitude of different factors to consider. Having the conversations and maintaining rapport/dialogue with your expats is important.  Reverse culture shock (when coming home) is as real as the outbound culture shock.

There is so much more I could add to this summary (having been an expat in several locations myself), a most entertaining session as well as providing important content and perspective.

Want to know more about the Sydney Chapter Meeting or receive updates on future events? Please email Aysegul Kayahan

Go to the profile of Aysegul Kayahan

Aysegul Kayahan

Director, Relocation Specialists

Aysegul Kayahan, managing director of Relocation Specialists in Queensland and Victoria has been in the global mobility industry since 1993. Aysegul started the Forum for Expatriate Management community in Australia in early 2012, with chapters in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. From February 2015 to January 2017, Aysegul was appointed to the role of global chair of Chapter Leads for the Forum for Expatriate Management.

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