Expat Partner Support HR Newsletter | June 2013 Welcome to the June Global Connection HR Newsletter. This quarterly publication will inform you about policy and operations and keep you up-to-date on expat partner issues. It also contains the latest news on Global Connection spousal support activities, including research and HR consultancy, and an interview with Philips and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Partner support is more than career support Global Connection shapes its expat partner support services based on research. Therefore, we regularly conduct surveys on the (changing) needs for support among our members. A first analysis of the responses to our 2013 Demand & Satisfaction Survey among expat partners substantiates earlier indications: partner support entails much more than just career support. According to some studies, the vast majority of partners are looking for a paid job. In fact, the global demand for job search support for expat partners is not as large as many reports would have us believe. A closer look reveals that this sector is much smaller, and heavily influenced by the expat lifestyle and all that this involves. Unrealistic figures The widespread practice of overestimating the need for job search support stems from commercial interests the reporting party might have (demand creation), from non-representative sampling (different from company’s target audience), and incorrect, sometimes even suggestive, questions/definitions. In addition, career support organisations often tend to quote unrealistically high average success rates (80% plus) for finding a job anywhere in the world with their help. We have research data and information from clients that show such percentages are incorrect. Alternatives to paid work While a significant and growing number of expat couples face dual career issues, we know from experience that expat partners in this category are often also interested in ‘alternatives to paid work’, such as voluntary work or starting their own business. (See also: ‘An occupation close to her heart’.) The reasons for this vary widely, from ideological convictions to using sabbatical leave for studying in order to enhance career prospects. Global Connection conducts true needs assessments, which explore the intrinsic drivers of expat partners (as opposed to free – often promotional – intake meetings with career coaches). Such assessments indicate that only a minority of expat partners worldwide need real and tangible job search support. A fulfilling occupation is vital (Read more on page 3) Jacqueline van Haaften
An occupation close to her heart In March 2012, TV producer Rosanne Surie moved to Kenya to join her partner. She was confident she’d be able to continue her career in Africa, and soon found work at a TV production firm. Unfortunately, the job didn’t meet her expectations and she quit. Global Connection helped her find an alternative. Rosanne had lived and worked abroad before, but now she realised that going to another country for her partner’s career was quite different. Not having a work permit, which she had hoped to obtain through an employer, complicated the situation. Top-five solutions Global Connection coordinates expat partner support on behalf of HEINEKEN, the employer of Rosanne’s partner. After Rosanne got in touch, a designated Global Connection consultant conducted a needs assessment and follow-up meetings to help Rosanne chart her interests and intrinsic motivations. Based on this, Rosanne made a ‘top five ranking’ of possible solutions. Organisational skills In the end, she opted to run her own furniture company, which is not as strange as it may seem. The meetings with Global Connection had revealed that Rosanne owed much of her success as a TV producer to her organisational skills. Without realising, she had been using this talent when she had approached local craftsmen in Kenya to make European-style furniture for her home. Business is thriving Nowadays, she takes furniture orders from expat clients and puts local craftsmen to work. Rosanne’s business is thriving and she says: “I now know that if we continue to accept foreign postings, I will always have to look for something that is close to my heart, even if it is something that I have never done before.” Global Connection | June 2013
Expat Partner Support HR Newsletter PhiliPs anD Dutch ministrY oF ForeiGn aFFairs Putting the expat experience into practice Nothing beats first-hand experience when your job is advising expats on moving abroad. That is the conclusion one could draw from interviews in the upcoming Global Connection Magazine with two HR oﬃcials, who went through the motions themselves. Bursting the expat bubble First, there is Yap Bee Leng. A native of Singapore, she had worked for Philips for years, helping expats and their families. Then, in 2010, she was offered a posting herself to the Netherlands, where she worked for 28 months. Back in Singapore, she says the experience really helped her: “I’m now better able to explain the cultural values here to people from abroad. And I’ve seen first-hand how important it is not to live in an ‘expat bubble’ in your host country.” Diﬃcult time for newly-weds Hadewych Dautzenberg also has a remarkable story to tell. She is a coordinator in the Partners and Children Oﬃce at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When they first went abroad, she and her husband went through a very diﬃcult time, and almost threw in the towel. It was only when she followed Global Connection’s Cycles of Change workshop, 20 years later, that she finally realised what had happened: "We had just met, married, and we moved overseas ...Plus, we relocated at different times, so our cycles of change were in different phases. I now know that that’s asking for trouble.”
also FeatureD in GloBal connection’s June maGaZine* aBc of school choice For expat parents, a new posting means a new school – but the search for the right one can often be confusing and stressful. The number of international schools around the world has nearly tripled since 2000, and this growth is expected to continue. There is no single international system, and no model that all international schools follow. This diversity offers both advantages and challenges. With so many options and information to decipher, and sometimes with very little time available, how can parents make an informed decision? changing course — mary’s little lambs Mary’s serial expat life led to a surprising discovery. While cultivating a vegetable patch during her stay in Nigeria, a talent for horticulture was awakened. She has started studying for a degree in agriculture and intends to run a sheep farm in New Zealand together with her husband, when he retires. expat File Geneva — Where the world comes together Some 40% of Geneva’s ever-shifting residents are non-Swiss. This is partly due to it being home to many of the world’s most influential non-governmental organisations. Expats find it a lively cosmopolitan city with international restaurants, luxury boutiques, beautiful parks and the soothing Lac Léman. amazing connections — a second wind for old sewing machines A charity organisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo has received a helping hand from a previous Shell expat partner, Lady Moody-Stuart. She has galvanised people in the UK to donate old, used, hand-driven sewing machines so that Congolese women can better improve their circumstances. Intermediary action by Global Connection enabled the international removal firm Voerman, together with a Global Connection member, to transport eight sewing machines to the DRC. expat Partner & Work — the voluntourists Voluntouring – a combination of volunteer work and a holiday in an exotic locale – is currently experiencing an explosive growth in popularity. We report on this ‘fusion’ vacation activity with interviews from experienced voluntourists, who point out the positive – and sometimes negative – aspects of this niche tourist sector. * for spouses (B2B subscription)
on a liGhter note complaints form One of my friends has found a way to get good service, even from bad airline companies. Here’s the trick: as soon as you board the plane you ask for a complaints form. The flight attendant will probably say: “Why, sir? Have we done anything wrong? Are you dissatisfied with something?” To which you should reply: “Not yet, but things can change.” Source: Expat & Travel Stories — Global Connection 2
Global Connection | June 2013
Partner suPPort PolicY WorKshoP FullY BooKeD
Partner suPPort is more than career suPPort
Global Connection’s fully booked Partner Support Policy Workshop in Amsterdam, on May 30, shows the huge interest in policy development. Consequently, we will proceed with offering (inhouse) policy workshops for assigning organisations.
a fulfilling occupation is vital (Continued from page 1) For non-job-seeking expat partners, looking for a fulfilling occupation is also important. Support for this search is equally vital, as it is relevant to mobility. A 2011 Global Connection research study among 580 partners showed that support regarding ‘alternatives to paid work’ was essential. As a result, we have continued to emphasise the necessity of having a ‘Plan B’ (alternative options for finding a fulfilling occupation) in place.
We will publish a Partner Support Policy Special HR Newsletter containing the outcome of the workshop – in essence, a road map for the structural improvement of partner support. The outcome of related HR and partner surveys will also be highlighted in this Special.
Our 2012 Effectiveness Survey – jointly conducted with the RES Forum – among HR and Global Mobility managers representing 68 global companies showed that job search support is anything but the most important need. In companies where large budgets were available for job search support, expat partners hardly used them – even when they had been clearly informed about the budget and that it was not intended as discretionary support (also known as ‘Gucci money’).
lanGuaGe is the KeY Language training, together with cultural awareness, is the kind of support most frequently offered to the partners of expats. The Global Relocation Trends 2012 survey by Brookfield GRS revealed that 78% of those questioned had received this type of training. It’s not surprising, really. Learning the local lingo makes life a lot easier for expat partners, and is key to understanding the culture of the host country. The June issue of Global Connection Magazine features a wide-ranging article about the options available to expat partners from companies offering language training. For instance: is it better to learn a language in a group, or in a one-on-one setting?
DiGital hr neWsletter anD more Our HR Newsletters can also be distributed digitally. Please advise us if you would like to receive the digital version, as well as or instead of the print edition, or if you want to stop receiving our newsletters altogether. You can find all our HR Newsletters at www. global-connection.info, including related and more in-depth articles.
adequate support As an independent party, Global Connection does not have any commercial interest in increased or decreased demand for job search assistance – despite being quite able of providing this type of support. Our goal is to help to increase the well-being of expat partners by providing adequate partner support, including aid in searching for a job, whenever this is necessary. There is much progress to be made in this area, influenced by changes in demand. However, the wrong approach could do more harm than good. Therefore, we emphasise the importance of basing expat partner support services on realistic data. no ‘games’ of inflating numbers Because of our honest estimates, we may come across as less motivated, or less interested, in providing career support to expat partners than parties who present much higher estimates regarding expat partners’ needs and their success rates in this area. We can assure you that we are firm believers in the necessity of career support as an integral part of comprehensive partner support, our core activity. We are also convinced that the ‘dual career’ trend is growing and that demand for job search support will therefore increase. However, we categorically refuse to engage in ‘games’ of inflating numbers. If we were to engage in such practices, we would be disrespecting our members and contradicting our own research reports. * The ﬁnal results of the survey will be presented through various Global Connection publications, including a special edition of our HR Newsletter on expat partner support policies. Global Connection | June 2013
Expat Partner Support HR Newsletter aBout GloBal connection Global Connection is an independent, international organisation that is exclusively dedicated to expat partner support. Our goal: to contribute to the well-being and mobility of expat partners and consequently to the success of the posting. We have 20 years of experience and more than 250 organisations use our services. We support partners of 80 nationalities in 140 countries.
GloBal connection surVeY The preliminary results of the Global Connection expat partner support survey (n=588) are now available. Below, we highlight the results specifically related to media and networks, and indicate how we want to further develop our support in these specific areas. Preference for print and digital media Of the respondents, 41% prefer to receive magazines and books both in print and digitally. 34% prefer only print, and 25% only digital. Consequently, Global Connection will continue to publish both in print and digitally. more than own company content 93% of the respondents also want to receive information about other organisations. Regarding the content breakdown of this information, they opted for the following mix: 58% of the content should be about their own assigning organisations and third parties (for example, as presented in Global Connection Magazine); 37% should be about just their assigning organisations (for instance, as portrayed in their own in-house magazines); and 5% only about third parties. This outcome supports the content mix which we already supply, and the advantages of tailoring it for a client – for example, Nike’s insert in our magazine, a number of customised newsletters and portals. more than own company network A vast majority (96%) of the respondents indicated that they want to make use of a network broader than their own organisations. They opted for the following mix: 46% of the networks used should be open (thus without restricted access); 37% should be closed and should consist of expat partners of their own organisations and third parties; and 17% (restricted) should involve only their own organisations’ partners. As a result of these figures, we will proceed with our closed network in addition to the numerous, already available, open networks.
mercer rePort shorter long-term contracts The duration of long-term contracts for expats is trending down, and has now reached an average of two years and ten months. This is one of the findings of the Worldwide International Assignment Policies and Practices report, recently published by HR specialist Mercer (n = 700). subsidiary-to-subsidiary transfers In another finding, the report says that, while most international companies still send out the majority of their assignees from the countries in which they are headquartered to foreign subsidiaries, the percentage of subsidiary-tosubsidiary transfers has increased. This is especially true for European companies, with 61% reporting an increase. 4
Global Connection | June 2013
serVices For human resources research: Global Connection conducts research into all aspects of partner support. Our studies include surveys among expat partners as well as HR executives. In addition, we conduct customised surveys to answer your specific questions. consultancy: We help organisations with, among other things: partner support policy development, ROI calculations, improving cost eﬃciency and effectiveness, benchmarking, best practices exchange, supplier selection, purchasing/contracting, testing plans and new initiatives. HR management and staff training is also available. serVices For eXPat Partners unique support model: Effective partner support requires providing the right information and service at the right time and in the right way. Therefore, we work according to a unique Triple Seven Support Model and provide a one-stop-shop for expat partner support. 7 staGes Pre-decision Pre-departure Settling in Settled Pre-repatriation Repatriation Repatriated
7 areas Life abroad Destination Networking Paid work Alternatives Repatriation Other
7 Forms Needs assessment Media Support desk Network Local meeting Coaching* Training* * incl. test/assessment
B2B and B2c: Our support packages are exclusively available to expat partners of assigning organisations that have a contract with Global Connection. Our books are also available to the general public and can be ordered online. more inFormation Please visit www.global-connection.info or contact us: Business Development Managers: Irma Groenhof – email@example.com Geke van Gurp – firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Director: Jacqueline van Haaften – email@example.com
aBout this neWsletter This quarterly Global Connection HR Newsletter is produced for all HR, Global Mobility and Talent Managers with an interest in expat partner support. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
HR Newsletter - June 2013