Human Resources deals with people and this is, basically, why expatriation policies fail, because they are intrinsically connected to human condition. Nothing is sure when dealing with people; this is why the companies must be aware of every factor potentially capable of creating a problem. These factors mainly concern the enterprise itself; the country to which it is sending the expatriate and its peculiarities; and the candidate and his circumstances. No expatriation policy is perfect because no human person is, either. However, a conscientious preparation of the assignment, a continuous communication and exchange of feedback during its execution and a good reintegration of the worker in its natural environment once the assignment has been finished, will help preventing the worst problems which may arise when expatriating an employee. Therefore, the enterprise has the biggest proportion of responsibility in the success or the failure of the project. These three stages are the ones that I have used in this essay to identify and define the concrete problems which enterprises encounter with their expatriation policies. These stages are overlapped and confused in real life.
a. Scan of the country of expatriation:
Before starting making business in other countries, the companies study them very deeply, in order to be sure that the adventure will be profitable. However, too often, the enterprises fail to do this scan in relation to the person who will be sent there to work. This creates many problems, being some of the more important: -
Employment and immigration laws of the host country. The company has to be familiarized with the legal environment of the host country and help the expatriate understanding it, because the legal jungle can discourage him, get him lost in bureaucratic proceedings, and even have problems with justice. Just as an example, some workers have found themselves refused of re-entering the host country after a weekend passed in a neighbour country because their documentation didn’t allow them to do that; or even, in the situation of not having the correct visa (situation more than alike to happen in countries like Thailand, where there are four different types of visas for foreigners). Most of the big enterprises avoid these problems by contracting specialized companies like ASN, Exfin, or KPMG to deal with legal issues. -
Taxes. There are two big problems for the expatriated in relation with taxes. First, the employee may finish paying more taxes in the host country that what he paid before moving; or even, paying double taxation. According to KPMG’s Global Assignment- Policies and Practices Survey 2003, 78% of companies (between them Nestlé, Pepsi, Pfizer…) tax equalise their assignees, so they do not pay more or less than they would pay at home. -
Safety. It is the responsibility of the enterprise to assess the potential danger of the countries where it operates and to plan the way to protect its workers. Examples of companies that have to face this problem in its every day operations are the companies in oil industry, which have workers in Middle East, Russia… Some of these enterprises, as Orica, have contracted KPMG or other companies to manage all the staff related to expatriation, including security bulletins every week in order to have a guarantee that the security of the expatriates will be assured.
b. Scan of the candidate and his particularities
A detailed candidate selection can avoid to the enterprise and the worker thousands of problems like loss of motivation, underperformance, abandon of the assignment, and even abandon of the company. Some of the most common problematic points are: -
Individual candidate. More often than desirable, the enterprises select their expatriates only based on their technical competences and their performance. This mistake shows us that some enterprises don’t realize the complexity of moving to another country, dismantling in most...
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