Keeping your Foreign Staff Connected

by : Christine Draeger

In a recent study conducted by Crown Relocations, a number of Relocation Professionals were asked about their company's working relationship with staff members on foreign assignment. With over 200 responses, when asked "What aspects of working in China and India were most difficult for their foreign staff," 31% of the respondants cited "a disconnection from their head office communication and culture."

Bridging communication with overseas employees may seem like a difficult roadblock to overcome. But with a little creativity, a wealth of tools and information can be utilized by both Relocation Professionals and foreign staff members. Here are some tips to help keep the line of communication open and positive when dealing with overseas assignments:

Let's Talk!

Many Relocation Professionals appoint a "Home Office Mentor," ideally a senior level manager who is tasked with staying in touch with the expatriate, by phone, video conference, SkypeTM or email. They schedule monthly meetings or regular conference calls. By doing so, the mentor keeps the foreign staff in the loop on recent changes and announcements and provides an opportunity for them to provide feedback to the head office. It establishes an ongoing interaction that both the staff member and employer can look forward to. It also provides an opportunity to "catch up" with each others' lives, both professionally and socially.

Got Media?

In this day and age where multiple forms of communication technology are literally at our fingertips, staying in contact with the home office, family and friends is a lot easier than many expats and transferees may believe. With Blackberries, instant messaging, emails, photo-sharing websites and intranets, as well as video conferencing and satellite hook-ups, living thousands of miles away from the rest of your team may seem like any other day at the office.

Swati Pathak, Corporate Services & India Specialist at Crown, relocated with her family from Bangalore to the U.S. She is currently on assignment in Seattle, Washington. When asked how she stays in touch with her friends and family in Bangalore, she replied, "This is easier than we had thought. Long distance from U.S. to India is not as expensive as it used to be five years ago. We call as often as we feel like. High-speed internet service allows us to chat on messengers and do video as well!"

Read all about it...

Newsletters are common tools that allow worldwide staff and organization members to know what is going on with the company or home country. Many Relocation professionals use Newsletters to provide Company News (staff changes, new services, etc.), Environmental Events (travel warnings, safety tips, etc.), Assignment Notices (reminders on benefits, tax filings, etc.) and even Social News (weddings, births, engagements, retirements, etc.) to their assignees.

A newsletter takes time and resources to put together and a busy staff may not have a chance to work on such an initiative. For the busy professional, one approach to this task is to "Keep is simple." Avoid the fancy format of a traditional Newsletter. Set up an Email group to the foreign staff and simply send monthly E-mail announcements. Names like "All About Acme" or "Corporate Chatter" could be used on each monthly email to give it a sense of formality. Another option to consider is outsourcing the newsletter duties to a communications or relocations provider.

These are just a few tips that can help keep the lines of communication open between a transferee and his home office. Relocation professionals know that every international assignment is unique and may require individual consideration. But following the tips outlined may go a long way in helping foreign staff to stay connected.

Chris Draeger, Group Vice President, Crown Relocations

Crown Relocations has been providing international moving and relocation services since 1965. With 200 offices in 50 countries, Crown has "people on the ground" in all the major Expat communities around the world. Crown provides a range of services to help Expats and their families move and settle into their new home ranging from Orientation Tours, Home finding, School Search and more. Crown also organizes Expat Clubs with regular events to help people meet and socialize with other Expats.

We also serve corporate clients as they develop and manage the relocation policies and employee benefit programs for the staff moving overseas. Services include expense management, program development, policy counseling, customized online reporting and full departure and destination services for the employees.

Crown is a private organization headquartered in Hong Kong, with European HQ in London and Americas HQ in Los Angeles California.

Crown provides free moving quotations on its website at