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Sending Employees Overseas? Don't Forget This Stuff

Monday, December 18, 2017

/ by Nurdin Budi Mustofa
Sending Employees Overseas
We now, more than ever, live on a truly connected planet. The internet has seen to that. However, when it comes to business at least, although the internet and the various apps, gadgets and gizmos we’re all so lucky to have has made it a lot easier to branch out into new global markets, they are not the be all and end all. No, many of us still have a need to send out employees overseas, whether it’s to set up a new office, teach the employees over there something that you just couldn’t do on Skype, or for totally different reasons completely!

If you’re one such business owner, who is preparing to send one or more employees overseas, here are some things you should bear in mind:

Choose the Right Candidates Working overseas away from everyone they know and love is hard. Not everyone can do it, which means that first and foremost, you need to ensure that you choose the best people for the job. You want confident, adaptable individuals who are fast to learn and up for a challenge to handle your business overseas.

Of course, it can be hard to work out who these people are - lots of individuals who seem bold and fearless don’t actually want to stray very far from home at all and lots of people who seem quiet, have families and don’t seem the adventurous type are actually the most eager. So, you might have a bit of a challenge on your hands, but doing something like taking one of the trips at is a good way to sound out how well-equipped employees are for the change, Obviously, extensive interviews by skilful HR staff are also necessary, and it’s probably a good idea to make it clear that there is no pressure for anyone to accept the challenge, that way, only those who really do want to go and advance the business abroad are likely to do so.

An Apartment is Often the Cheapest Option If you’re sending employees overseas and you’ve agreed that you’ll be responsible for their accommodation while they’re there, as you can see at, renting, sometimes even buying, an apartment is often a lot cheaper than putting them up in a fairly decent hotel. As a business person, you are undoubtedly worried about your bottom line, and so you should check out every option, even if it seems like it should be more expensive, before sending them out there, because actually a lot of the times, you’ll be surprised.

Decide on Their Role Before They Go If the employees you’re sending overseas are going to a branch of your company that’s already in operation and has been for a while, you don’t want to cause any friction by not making it clear which roles all parties will be taking. If, for example, you send your office manager out to the Indonesian branch, which already happens to have its own office manager, that could cause tensions to say the least. That’s the last thing you want, and it’s why you should iron out who is in ultimate charge of what. It’s always best to be as diplomatic as possible when you do this, although occasionally, upset feelings and resentments are an unavoidable part of doing business.

Employment Contracts Will Require Changes Sending Employees Overseas
It doesn’t matter whether your employees are going off to start a new branch from the ground up, upon which they will return to their usual employment, or they’re transferring to a new location within your business permanently - whatever the situation is - you will need to amend their employment contracts.

They will be working in a new environment where things are perhaps done a little differently, and conditions won’t be the same. If you want to protect them and protect yourself and your company from any potential lawsuits, you need to change their contract to fit the circumstances. This is the only way to avoid disputes and charges of unfair dismissal, and that means you should probably bring in a professional employment lawyer to help you make the amendments you need.

Remember Their New Location Will Change Things One of the things a lot of business owners don’t think about before sending employees overseas is how it will impact them back home. If they’re sending staff out to a new country to oversee things, but they still expect them to report back and stay in touch they forget about little things like time differences and public holidays, and then they get annoyed by the lack of contact.

You don’t want to be like them. You want to be a good boss and one who understands their own business and its comings and goings. That’s why you should take the time to get to grips with things like varying working hours between places, note down the public holidays in the employees’ new location, and set up a better system whereby you can stray in the loop without disrupting the flow of your business at either end.

Employees May Need to be Prepared for Cultural Differences Living and working in Indonesia, China or even the UK is a lot different to living and working in the United States.You can’t expect to simply throw your staff in at the deep end and expect them to come up swimming right away. That’s why if you want the transition to be as smooth as possible and the productivity of your business to remain as high as it is right now, you need to prepare your employees. Helping them to learn the language (if necessary), educating them on cultural norms and potential faux-pas, and if possible even taking them out to do ‘work experience’ in the new location before moving them there permanently are all very good things to do, not only for them, but for their colleagues and your company as a whole.

Employees Need a Local Point of Contact Sending Employees Overseas
Because things can be so different from country to country, you should always try to give your employees a local point of contact. Ideally, this should be an HR person who speaks the language and can assist them with any difficulties they might be having or any questions they need answering. Sure, they would call or Facetime you or your HR department for some help, but that just isn’t the same as having someone close by they can really get into things with. Having even just one person who speaks the language and they know is there to help can make a huge difference to how well they adjust, and of course, the faster they adjust, the better it is for everyone involved, not least you and your company.

Salary and Benefits It is really important when you’re sending employees overseas that you explain any of the changes that you’re making to their salary if you’re making any at all. The easiest, and fairest thing to do if they'll be doing the same amount of work is to simply convert their current salary into the currency of their new location and pay them that, but things aren’t always that simple, and that means you might have to look a bit more deeply into pay at the new location and what that means for your outgoing employees.

For example, you might need to inform them about local tax differenced, or that they’ll now be paid weekly instead of monthly or that they’ll receive a sliding scale of pay based on performance if that’s what happens at the new location. You’ll also need to work out the situation with health benefits and insurance - you don't want to send your employees somewhere new without the same level of health coverage they have now - that could prove disastrous!

Risk Assessments are Important Even if they’re working far away, they are your employees, and you are responsible for them. So, you absolutely must ensure that the conditions they are working in are up to standard and that they are still covered by your liability insurance. If they are not, then that could be bad for you and even worse for them. Again, this might be one for the lawyers to handle.

Plan for Repatriation Sending Employees Overseas
You send them off; you have the responsibility to ensure that they get back here safely with as little hassle as possible using some of the techniques at It can be just as jolting an experience to return to your usual work as it is to head off to a foreign office, so you need to allow them the time and space to ease back into things if you want to be a good employer anyway!

When sending employees overseas is essential, you need to do it right. If you remember this stuff and you actually implement it into the process, then you should find that it’s a lot easier for all involved to make a smooth transition and get the job done, ignore it and you may find yourself dealing with more problems than solutions.

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