Companies relocating their employees abroad mostly prepare them for a change.
The care of relocation offices helps in finding a flat and school, in migration and insurance procedures. Most often, however, there is no organized mental support for employees and their families.
Expat family members always experience loss in close relationships: family, friendship, circle of support and in the area of life organization: plans, initiatives, dreams. Quite often identity crises, existential crises and depressions appear. In many cases, the partners struggle with defining a new role in the family and professional life, including the need to change qualifications or profession. Children face challenges in relations with peers and school adaptation.
The company can provide assistance to the entire family by using the work of a coach experienced in working with expats. This support may take the form of individual sessions or support groups. Usually, the coach works with psychologists. The support can have also the other forms: leading adaptation workshops for families or special support groups, by contacting the person responsible for relocation with international schools and arranging care for the relocated family within these schools.
Support for a family delegated abroad includes many stages:
1. preparation for relocation: work with mental readiness to leave, with fears and uncertainty, helping parents prepare their children for relocation, saying goodbye to family and friends;
2. building awareness that the family does not have to bear this decision and its consequences alone;
3. psychoeducation and preparation for culture shock, for the change itself, transition generally;
4. living abroad, when the first shock has passed, enthusiasm and admiration for the novelty decline, and everyday challenges in a different culture come;
5. during the next relocation: contracts often provide for a relocation every 2-4 years; working with the readiness for migration;
6. before and during the return to the home country – sometimes come-backs become a greater challenge than the emigration itself.
An employee’s foreign career is a big challenge, with creative potential for the whole family, however when the family gets proper support. Reducing stress and providing mental family care, minimizes the negative effects of migration and positively affects the quality of work, development, satisfaction and further relocation decisions of employee.
I also participated in creating the report about company support for families of employees. It is in polish but if interested it can be downloaded from here: Raport Rodzina.