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Relocating employees from abroad? Here is what you need to think about.

Updated: Jun 28, 2019

There comes a point in any company where hiring international staff becomes essential. International hires are a great way to boost business insight and gain valuable experience and expertise for your company. But hiring from abroad isn't always easy, your new employee has to trust you enough that they move their entire life to come and work for you. how do you repay this trust, and how do you ensure their experience is positive enough that they won't want to leave again after 6 months. Here are 4 things to think of.

1. Talk to employees before they move and set expectations

This might seem obvious but it is surprising how many hiring managers do not talk about what it is like to live in a new country. Managing expectations before an employee accepts your job offer or moves is one of the simplest and cost effective insurances when hiring from abroad.

We have talked to people from Brazil, Costa Rica, Cameroon, who have no frame of reference for what living in a place like Norway is like. We know that talking to potential employees about the practicalities of moving to a new country, increases the likelihood that potential employees will accept a job offer.

During the interview process it is natural to talk about the job or your company and what it is like to work for you. But candidates aren’t just moving jobs, they are moving their lives. There are many other concerns that people have that are unrelated to the job you are offering. Discuss what life their will be like here, set their expectations, and what the practicalities of moving here are. Make sure that they are not going into this unknown. Tell them the immigration process, what the will need for visa, for example.

In this process it is important to give realistic expectations. Otherwise after 6 months or a year you might find yourself starting the hiring process all over again.

Giving information about more than your job helps to build trust. It shows that you care not only about what the employee can do for you, but that you care about what is best for them.

Providing support early on is essential

2. Give early support when employees arrive

When employees begin work in any company it is natural to expect that they will be told their role, their responsibilities and what they need to do. You wouldn’t leave new employees on their first day to figure out everything for themselves in the workplace, so why do it outside the workplace?

The first few weeks of employment are stressful enough, without the added stress of trying to settle in a new country that you do not understand. Do you expect your employee to figure out everything they need themselves regarding tax registration, National ID, setting up a bank account, driver’s license, schooling, doctor’s appointments? While some sites are in English as well, many others are not.

Employees will be less focused at work if they are also worried about where they will live, what official paperwork they need to submit and meetings they need to attend.

Why not put together a welcome pack about how to settle into Norwegian life outside of work? Including instructions on what procedures that need to be followed and what official offices they need to arrange meetings with—so that they do not need to try to figure out everything themselves. Also consider:

  • Establishing a policy for where they will stay when they first arrive? Are they expected to find and pay for a hotel themselves?

  • Providing an information package about the schooling system for families.

  • Sponsoring language programs for employees, their spouse or partner. We have provided Norwegian courses to several organisations, because the demand is so high for language assistance.

By giving more information to new employees when they begin, you reduce the workload on your HR department and current employees. Your other staff does not need to spend time answering the same questions from each new international employee, which can be frustrating. Your new employee can focus on the work they need to do.

Relocation impacts employee's families as well

3. Think of families and partners

Over 60% of the people who come through our company are spouses, couples or families. The decision to hire affects not only your new employee, but their family as well.

Through the hiring process other questions will come up such as, will my partner be able to find a job? Where are the best schools? What neighbourhood should we live in? These questions are extremely important for families moving to a new city or country.

One of the primary reasons that we see employees deciding to leave Norway is that their spouse or partner is not happy. These are highly skilled and trained people for whom it is difficult to find work, and to find something that motivates them to want to stay.

This has a knock on effect to your employee, as they cannot be happy and productive in work if their partner is miserable at home. The longer this goes on the higher the likelihood that your employee will want to leave the country.

So what can you do? We know that you cannot promise a job to spouses and partners, but any assistance which can be provided can go a long way. Whether it is as simple as having someone at your company look at their CV, or to give some tips on what Norwegian companies look for in a CV. Ask whether you know someone in their field who might be hiring? Can you afford to provide them with some temporary work?

Early support that you give to spouses and partners not only builds good-will, but it is time that you are investing in the future wellbeing of your employee. This is an investment in retention, that your employees will stay with your company for the long-term.

4. Build trust into the hiring process

Does your new employee feel like they can trust you? Do they feel comfortable in talking to you about matters that might arise in the moving relocation and settling in process?

Employees are putting a lot of trust in you by moving here and they expect their trust to be repaid. They will also have a lot of questions. How much responsibility are you willing to have regarding their welfare outside of work? This will impact on how well they work at your office. Some employees will have more sensitive issues that they might not want to discuss with the person hiring them or their boss.

Nominate a person to whom an employee can talk to when they begin working for you. Someone separate from management, who is comfortable answering questions about life in a new country. This is so that questions can be directed in one place, and a new employee knows where they can go for answers.

Also if you want employees to stay for the long-term, then encourage permanent residency. Monitor residence permits and encourage employees to apply for permanent residency when they are eligible. This helps build a strong bond and relationships between employees and employers. It is also showing respect to employees, that they trust you are thinking of their welfare in the long-term.

There are many steps in the hiring process, and hiring international staff adds a few more. But the advantages that international staff can bring, through experience, expertise and different ways of thinking are invaluable to many companies. Providing a little extra care for international employees while recognising and eliminating as many difficulties as possible leads to a better workplace and staff who are dedicated for the long-term.

If you would like a free consultation about how Onboard Norway can assist in the relocation process, contact us today


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