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The Hidden Compliances in Global Mobility

Holding a Relocation Assignment Together

Holding a Relocation Assignment TogetherA good relocation is like a beautiful mosaic – both are complex works of art that take hours of work to complete and are far from cheap. In both, different pieces are placed together to make a wonderful image that is more than the individual parts. The eye sees the beautiful stones and the mind puts them together to make an image without noticing the mortar between or seeing the cement below, into which the stones are set.

In relocation, the mortar which holds the parts of the assignment together and the cement foundation into which they are secured is language and cultural support. The high value, visible parts that make the image are items such tax advice, salary comparisons, education, housing but unless these are held together the image will fall apart as soon as it is walked on. Without the cement of secure language and cultural support none of these other, more expensive items, will stay in place for long and the assignment will fail.

Research in the relocation industry consistently shows that that the principle reason for assignments being cut short or failing are that the assignee or the family fails to adapt to the language and culture of the target destination. Surveys about assignee attitudes show that after the honeymoon period of starting a new job or moving into a new house has passed, assignees face the reality of a new life where they must make new friends in an unfamiliar place and learn to live amongst unfamiliar ways of doing things. That is exactly what language and cultural support will help them to do; and a good provider will be with them, at their side, meeting them once or twice every week for months to see them through this time of transition.

Like the cement in a mosaic, language and cultural support may be overlooked but it is both essential and the cheapest element in the picture. What is the cost of cement compared to the gold and precious stones that go into the best mosaics? What is the cost of an international assignment? $500, 000, more depending on the status of the assignee or duration of the assignment? Language training for one person might cost in the region of $5,000. Who would fail to invest 1% of the cost of a project to tackle all the greatest risks of failure in one step?

If you would like to support your international assignees in a direct, practical and cost-effective way, contact Bob Robertson on .

By Bob Robertson, Robertson Languages

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