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Four areas employers must educate their staff on before taking an overseas assignment

Michael Bennett, managing director of ReThink Recruitment, commented, “It’s an employer’s responsibility to make it clear that the perception and the reality of working internationally aren’t always identical. There are a number of areas where firms must engage with their employees to ensure that they’re well prepared before deciding on whether they really do want to operate overseas. Our recommendations include:

"Language. It may seem easy to learn the native language but actually living and breathing it on a day-to-day basis is considerably more challenging, particularly in countries with an entirely new alphabet to understand. But many professionals won’t be aware of this, after all – IT is the universal language and surely every nation speaks English to some extent nowadays? Even if your employees are relocating to another English speaking country like Australia or the USA you might want to consider passing on George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote on Anglo-American relations, “We are two countries divided by a common language”.

"Culture shock. And it’s not just the language that they’ll initially have to contend with, moving to a foreign country means having to be able to understand the local culture and its subtle elements that many foreigners won’t be able to initially grasp. Professionals looking to move to the UAE, for example, would probably consider the weather and the fact that there are a lot of expats based there, but would they also factor in the cultural and religious laws that have to be taken into account when working in the Middle East?

"The grass isn’t always greener. Yes, we all love a good moan, but the UK is leaps and bounds ahead of many of its rivals, particularly in the field of technology where London was recently labelled as Europe’s number one tech hub. Unless they’re relocating to Silicon Valley it really is tough to beat the UK as a prime location in terms of opportunities, innovation and pay and this should be made clear to anyone expecting to relocate and immediately prosper.

"Get on the right side of the law. The majority of people probably think working in a foreign country is as simple as packing your bags and getting on a plane, however there’s so much to keep in mind. Employment laws and regulations vary from country to country and while in some you’ll be able to start working with relatively little fuss, in others you may have to pass a citizenship test or go through a highly complex process (in a foreign language) in order to obtain the right to work. Far too many people are unaware of the threats of being on the wrong side of employment law and it should be down to employers to make this as clear as possible.”


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