Planning for partners increases the success of international assignments

Crown’s Joanne Danehl explains why independence is essential for relocating partners

A recent survey by health insurance provider Cigna found that globally mobile employees are less satisfied than workers who reside in their home country. Among the main reasons for this was lack of support for partners. We spoke to Joanne Danehl, Crown World Mobility’s Global Intercultural and Language Training Practice Leader, who has found that the inability of partners to adapt to their new locations is the number one reason international assignments fail.

According to Joanne, the needs of the whole family need to be considered from the get go. She explains, “At Crown we always recommend anyone considering an assignment to go through an assessment program. You’re more likely to reach realistic expectations for both the assignee and their partner by pausing to consider wider implications such as cultural fit, depth of resilience and logistical issues such as healthcare needs and financial circumstances.”Planning for partners increases the success of international assignments

One important financial issue is employment, since 50 percent of households in western cultures are dual career and so dual income. Joanne says, “You have to consider the financial implications of a career break and how it may affect the partner’s career options upon repatriation.” For this reason, Joanne encourages partners to continue to work, where possible by law. She adds, “career counselling options are excellent and organizations should offer immigration support that will allow partners to work in the host location.”

Joanne stresses the importance of considering partner employment, highlighting Crown’s membership of the Permits Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that campaigns to improve work permit regulations to make it easier for partners of expatriate staff to gain employment. A key benefit of finding employment for partners, Joanne explains, is to enable them to be independent from the assignee. She says, “Through work they’ll meet new people and have a structure in the new location that doesn’t depend on and put pressure on the assignee.”

Particularly when working isn’t an option, Partner Support services are absolutely essential, because, as Joanne explains, “they help partners to create a fulfilling life independent of the assignee. While children have the structure and network that school provides, with the partner, you’re creating something from scratch.” Among the starting points Joanne advises are ongoing education, a career change or volunteering.

“International assignments crystalize family dynamics,” Joanne concludes, “but this is also an unfamiliar circumstance, so additional stresses are created. Employers planning international assignments have to think about their employees’ family lives and how they will be translated to the new location.”

If you think your assignees could benefit from Crown’s assessment program, cultural training and partner support, contact our experts today.