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Geographic Mobility Success : Self -Regulation as Emotional sustainability for Expats

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

As companies expand and seek to gain international presence, there are more people willing to relocate abroad to start a new career, often bringing their families along to start a new life, or begin a family with a partner. With a consistent guidance on emotional sustainability, Great Relocation does not have to mean Great Resignation.

Mindful corporations accompany their new expat employees with a relocation package providing moving necessities and linguistic development. After approximately 6 months to a year when the flourish of adjustments settle down to routine, some expat employees begin to feel certain psychological costs of having moved to a new culture, such as feeling of a loss of empowerment due to linguistic or social unfamiliarity on a daily level or cultural isolation.

While the initial relocation package may provide some practical necessities, according to an independent research, the following two aspects are often overlooked:

1. Mindful team support: (training)

· How has the existing team been supporting the new expat employees in a consistent and inclusive way to ensure the new employee can thrive in a new / foreign environment?

2. Sense of Empowerment in a new country: (follow-up)

· Does the new employee feel that there is enough space, reassurance, and concentration to go beyond his job description, or is there a sense of quiet quitting on the horizon?

From the perspective of the employees, there is often a possibility that they are simply not aware how their life has changed after moving abroad. The disconnect between management and employees may further hinder productivity and contribute to a growing lack of motivation; the Gartner’s 2020 Well-Being Employee Survey finds that only 49% of employees say their manager understands their problems and needs even when they do verbalize their concerns. A consistent emotional guidance can train and strengthen employee's self-assessment and self-regulation to counter burnout at the work place, particularly in a foreign country and in a foreign language.

Although many companies are already offering holistic and well-being packages to their employees, according to an article by Carolina Valencia on human resource management from the Harvard Business Review, some employees may feel extra pressure of having to attend extra meetings and not see the value in these self-care packages the company is offering. Valencia mentions that one effective way to invite employees to participate in a self-care regime is by sharing testimonies from their own senior leaders, normalizing and increasing value on self-care.

Another way a company may support the new expat employee according to Valencia's article, is by providing regular check-ins that are free from any stigma linking “therapy” to vulnerability or weakness, but rather, introducing and coaching self-regulation as a normalized aspect of a healthy skill for all. This in return will motivate employees to place more importance on learning and practicing self-care and regulation, not because they have to but rather, it can help them feel more purposeful and accountable in their own work and personal lives.

In summary, when a company hires a high volume of international employees who feel connected to themselves as well as to their team, the company will benefit from an optimum level of productivity. The mental and emotional well-being of these expats and their adaptation process in their new adopted country do not fall entirely on the new employees and their families, but rather it is an essential component of team work within the company. When a company truly cares for its employees and their well-being, its reputation will attract future employees with a higher conscientiousness and a more exclusive standard. Happier and healthier employees will not only elevate a company's productivity, but they will also become the foremost advocates in company’s future just by living their best lives.

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