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Expat Partner Support HR Newsletter | June 2014


expat partner support

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 David Enser, adidas Group's head of mobility.

More effective support In 2012, nearly half of assigning organisations were planning to increase the effectiveness of their expat partner support. I am very pleased to see that these plans, that is new policies, are indeed being implemented and that we have been chosen as the partner to develop, manage and execute them. Reacting to changing demand For many years, Global Connection’s surveys have indicated that the ongoing increase of non-family-related activities of expat partners will require a new approach to providing support. The joint Global Connection RES Forum survey of 2012 indicated that 46 per cent of assigning organisations were planning to increase the effectiveness of their expat partner support. In 2012, our client HEINEKEN developed and started with us an impressive new support programme and, since then, we have observed that many other companies have also opted for an adjusted support programme, in order to improve their effectiveness. Investment instead of relocation cost In an increasing number of companies, partner support has not fallen victim to cost-cutting reductions. It is regarded as an investment, with an exceptional high return (see HR Newsletter, December 2012). Many surveys have indicated that cost cutting is still a major issue especially where logistics are concerned in relocation. Approaches to increase effectiveness When analysing the approaches of 10 clients, who had switched to a more effective support policy, we noted that most of them had: • S tarted or proceeded with Media & Network as a cost-efficient basic support • Implemented a pro-active, broad, personalised support programme instead of ‘Gucci money’ cash payments, thereby often saving costs •O  utsourced the management of the support programme •C  ommunicated directly with the partner, often via us (i.e. minimal contact via the expat employee).

The new expat The expatriate population is changing rapidly and is now more diverse than ever before. This shift calls for customised expat packages – not just for employees but for their partners as well. A westerner, male, aged between 35 and 50, married with children, on a three to five year assignment… all that is history. What are the most significant changes? • T he proportion of female expatriate employees is growing steadily, up from 10 per cent in 1993 to 24 per cent today, according to the recently published Cartus survey Global Mobility Policy & Practices. • G reater numbers of younger employees and more employees aged over 50 are being sent abroad. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of expat employees aged between 36 and 50 dropped from 70 per cent down to 50 per cent, according to ECA’s 2012 Managing Mobility Survey. • F ewer expats now come from western countries, according to the 2013 Brookfield GRS report Meeting the Challenges of Assignments from Developing Locations. More and more expats today hail from India, South America and China. • L ong-term assignments are down, short-term and commuter assignments on the increase. The latest Brookfield Global Mobility Trends Survey confirms the trend: 27 per cent of companies are now considering a policy of localisation, with another 25 per cent looking at permanent one-way moves. • F inally, fewer couples now go abroad with children. According to the Brookfield survey, 20 per cent of married expatriates now move abroad without their partners. The knock-on effect is a large jump in the number of 'split families'. See also page 3.

Lean and mean operational structures In order to save costs and management time we have implemented ‘lean and mean’ operational structures, in close consultation with our clients. We will keep you posted of the best practices in this arena.

One size fits all is inadequate All these changes mean that a 'one size fits all' expat policy has become inadequate, both for employees and for their partners. Needs Assessments and on-going partner support can no longer be seen as a luxury, but as a necessary precondition for an assignment to succeed.

Jacqueline van Haaften

Source: Global Connection Magazine June 2014

Global Connection | June 2014


Expat Partner Support HR Newsletter Adidas: diversity is core value

From 70 different countries That diversity includes a remarkable spread of nationalities – adidas people hail from nearly 70 different countries. David Enser: “Of our total expat population, 7.9 per cent are Asian outbounds. For us that is a key thing, because we want to see more East-West mobility. Those outbounds originate from countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Tajikistan and Vietnam.” High number of female expats Another interesting statistic is the number of female expats. These comprise just over a third. That is a much higher figure than the average percentage of female expats employed by international companies, but Enser concedes: “In terms of gender diversity we still have some way to go.”


Volume 12 | June 2014


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the new expat:

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Fulfilling Occupation - Reinventing your CV Having an up-to-date CV is important for every expat partner. When your old CV doesn’t fit your new host culture, that mismatch can derail your search for a fulfilling occupation. Revamp your CV More than a magazine to reflect the cultural norms of where you live.

Networking profiles of expat partners in 140 countries, country and city information, Global Connection Coordinators, articles, interviews, videos, fortnightly digital newsletters, experts, book tips and much more. need your login details? Contact

a wedding for a visa New location, new CV Repats | be prepared

a new circle of friends Kids | expats & co-parenting

Kids - Co-parenting after a divorce Can expat-exes cooperate for the sake of the kids? And how does this work when parents are living in different countries? Repatriation - It’s like a new posting Repatriation can be the hardest posting. An expat partner, who has moved six times with her family, including twice to their home country, shares her experiences. Networking - Making new friends It’s never been easier to keep in touch with friends and family you’ve left back home. But there’s still the challenge of making new acquaintances in your new location. Folk illness and culture Is illness the same everywhere in the world, or do some cultures have their own specific maladies? The medical community is divided. Some believe that diseases are universal, others are convinced that folk illnesses exist only within certain cultures. * for spouses (B2B subscription)


Special skills HR Dealing with such a diversified population calls for special skills from the HR group. Enser: “To understand what’s going on, my team is based in more and more locations around the world. What we require is crosscultural sensitivity.”

Solarium to Karachi Mr. Williams dropped in at our office to get everything ready for his posting to Karachi in Pakistan. Those of us in the HR department were quite worried about this posting and wondered what Mrs. Williams thought of this transfer. Pakistan is not the easiest country to live in, of course, and the Williams couple and their two young children were to be stationed there for three years. Mrs. Williams... how shall I describe her politely? Let me just say that she didn’t win first prize in the intelligence sweepstakes. She was mainly a very sweet, naive, blond and tanned young lady. She had never ventured beyond Western Europe and was very much looking forward to the beautiful house with swimming pool they had been allocated. When we got down to discussing the move, she said earnestly: “I really must take my solarium along. I want to keep this tan up while we’re in Pakistan!” Her husband said nothing but turned his head away in embarrassment.

Source: Global Connection Magazine June 2014

Source: Expat & Travel Stories – Global Connection

Relatively young With an average age of 37, adidas Group’s expats are relatively young. As Enser explains, that average has dropped slightly over the years: “It has to do with our brand. We have strong employer brand appeal to younger generations.”


Relationships - A wedding for a visa? and Many expat couples choose NOTthere to say ‘Iis do’more! , opting instead for a life of cohabitation bliss. But this can spell trouble when relocated to a country where the authorities definitely want to see that ‘band of gold’.

Volume 12 | June 2014

1,345 international staff adidas Group employs some 1,345 international staff around the globe. Delving into this statistic quickly reveals how diversity is a core value that lies at the heart of the organisation.

MORE THAN Global ConneCtion MaGazine

“A diversified workforce is a prerequisite to success,” says David Enser, Head of Mobility at multinational sports shoes, clothing and accessory giant adidas Group.

Also featured in Global Connection’s June MAGAZINE*

Global Connection | June 2014

High mobility has its risks

Survey: more split families

“Improving mobility within the assigning organisation is our company’s goal.” David Remedios of ECA International, however, warns about the risks of too much intercompany mobility.

The number of 'split families' is on the rise, a recent survey has concluded. Split families are those where one of the parents has been posted on an assignment abroad leaving other members of the family at home or living in a different location.

Talent pipeline with younger expats One of the demographic changes in the expat population is that companies are more prepared to send younger people abroad than in the past. “Companies find they have to grow their talent pipeline by getting high-potential employees into the organisation and giving them international experience earlier on,” says Remedios, Head of Consultancy at ECA International, a consulting and advisory firm specialising in international assignment management. Advantages of younger people That’s very different from the 1980s and 1990s, when only top-tier employees were usually sent abroad. The advantages of expatriating younger people are clear: “At this early stage in their career, they don’t have a home they have to rent out while they’re away. They have no issues with family per se. All of which makes it easier for the company to relocate them.” Relocation costs are also lower. The level of support junior assignees get is not necessarily the same as is given to more senior members of staff. It works because “younger employees often view going abroad as an opportunity anyway,” adds Remedios. Downside: switching to other companies But there is a downside: “It’s a trade-off. The more companies invest in young people, the more companies run the risk that their people will be poached by other companies who pay more.” His advice is to think and plan around the issue: “Companies need to ask themselves how they can retain these people. The younger generation are often less interested in pension schemes or bonus plans – common tools used to encourage staff to stay – so there is no easy solution.” Partner support could retain staff One possible solution is an appropriate partner support programme designed to retain those younger expats who have a partner.

Significant rise According to the 2014 Trends in Global Relocation survey carried out by Cartus Corporation, there has been a significant rise in the number of split families. Fewer expats can take family abroad Companies that took part in the survey indicated that extended business travel and commuter policies are becoming more popular options. These trends go some way towards explaining the rise in the number of split families. An even more significant indicator is that fewer companies today allow staff posted on long-term assignments to be accompanied by their family as a matter of course. In the Cartus 2012 survey, 90 per cent of respondents said that families could always accompany an employee posted on a long-term assignment abroad. In their latest survey, this figure has dropped by 14 per centage points to 76 per cent.

Concerns about emerging markets There are two possible reasons for the drop, the survey claims. One is costs. The other is a growing concern about the suitability of emerging markets as a destination for expatriate families.

DIGITAL HR NEWSLETTER AND MORE Our HR Newsletter is also 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 (‘For HR’ tab), including related and more in-depth articles. Global Connection | June 2014



Expat Partner Support HR Newsletter Survey: children’s education critical Topping the list of family issues that are critical to the success of an international assignment is the children’s education. HR officials see this as the most serious challenge. No.1 concern It’s the first time that the issue of education has been cited as parents’ No.1 concern in the annual Global Mobility Trends Survey, published by Brookfield GRS. Some 42 per cent of parents see the issue as “very critical”, ahead of spouse/ partner resistance (40 per cent) and family adjustment (38 per cent).

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 more than 20 years of experience and over 250 organisations use our services. We support partners of 80 nationalities in 140 countries. 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.

Photo: Mike Liu,

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.

Cost cutting Cost cutting is the likely reason, the survey says. “Companies are increasingly expecting assignees to utilize local schools, versus international schools, and/or are cutting or capping school tuition assistance payments.”

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*

Less choice in emerging markets At the same time, companies continue to push into emerging markets which often offer less choice when it comes to securing a good international education. In some locations, it has become very difficult to enrol children in the most popular schools.

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.

Proactive structured approach Commenting on the findings, Peter Zuidema, Managing Director of educational consultancy Edufax, said that many concerns can be addressed by taking a proactive, structured approach to school choice. This, he said, would also manage the expectations of parents and their children.

More information Please visit or contact us: Business Development Manager: Geke van Gurp – Managing Director: Jacqueline van Haaften –

Often local schools are perfectly suited “You always have to start with what’s best for the child. We often find that local schools are perfectly suited to the needs of expat children. But you have to know what you are doing in a given location and for a given child. Often, companies and parents don’t have that knowledge,” Zuidema said. 4


expat partner support

Global Connection | June 2014

* incl. test/assessment

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

HR Newsletter June 2014  

HR Newsletter June 2014

HR Newsletter June 2014  

HR Newsletter June 2014