HTEL Serviced Apartments

4 challenges for international human resource management

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The labour market for internationally mobile employees is changing rapidly, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers about the future of work. [Contributed by Htel Serviced Apartments]

The challenges for international HRM in this ‘global nomads’ market are also changing at the same pace. It is only if they match this speed that they will attract and retain international employees in the increasingly competitive global labour market. Where your employees will stay is remarkably important for the question of if they will stay. 

1. Duty of care means care is your duty 

For expats, getting used to living in countries that are like their own is more difficult than is usually assumed. International HRM must therefore show extra care for international employees—and that goes beyond the legal ‘duty of care’ requirements. A study commissioned by the city of Nijmegen, ‘Feeling at home?’, showed that expats are less positive of the support they get from employers in establishing their lives. Only formal requirements, such as the visa, work permits and social security, are arranged by employers.

To improve the experience that employees have, international HR should take responsibility for housing beyond just referring them to an expat housing agency, which is especially important in the first year. In later years, housing requirements become more similar to locals and peer group wishes, according to research from the University of Amsterdam. International HRM should work with specialised expats housing organisations as well as the international employee, which will help the expat quickly arrange their accommodation and build their social lives.

2. Housing and location choice becoming more important in employee retention

In the international labour market, even major cities compete in their attractiveness for international employees. The way the employee and his or her family feels about a certain place is very important in the decision of whether they will stay.

Retention will be an increasingly important issue in the highly competitive international market, but international HRM cannot influence everything. However, they can influence the choice of a housing location that best suits the employee and their family. 

A study in the International Review of Social Research showed that 81 percent of potential international employees would refuse an overseas assignment due to overall family concerns, which could mean the family members are reluctant to live in a certain country or if the family is not travelling along with the employee. Family members of international employees want to be sure that their parent, partner or child has a reliable and safe and place to stay. Therefore, the city’s residential areas are often preferred over the city centre when it comes to housing. International HRM should pay attention to both employee and family requirements for housing.

International HRM

3. Location preferences: quiet, mixed, green and cosy

International assignments are often seen as glamourous work in the middle of a busy city centre. The University of Amsterdam study showed that this might, in fact, be preferable for only a minority of single employees in the creative sector—but even for them, the most sought-after features of a neighbourhood were quiet, mixed, green and cosy. 

Housing in a more suburban areas are often the best choice. Elements such as nearby shops, medical facilities, international schools and public transport are seen as valuable, and being able to engage in social activities with locals and other expats is also important. The same study showed that individual preferences vary: location/quality of life is an important issue for international employees in 36 percent of all cases, for example. A bad housing choice might influence a decision for a career change or result in a negative work-life balance, meaning that international HRM should take individual preferences in account to determine the right type of housing location.  

4. A positive work-life balance ensures employees' productivity and retention

More often than is admitted, international workers encounter many problems in acclimating to their new situation. The problems differ with age and social situation, but attention should be given to employees’ work-life balance—especially in the first year. A negative work-life balance affects employees’ productivity and retention, but one way that international human resources can help is by relieving international employees of worries with daily household tasks. A study from Eindhoven University of Technology and TIAS Business School, for example, showed that 71 percent of international employees preferred furnished housing, which eases the process of decorating the home.

Furnished serviced apartments provide private individual housing that not only takes care of furnishings but many other day-to-day worries, which leaves more time to work and build a positive social life.

International HRM should not restrict itself to corporate responsibilities—the responsibilities that are often seen as personal decisions for the employee should also be taken in account. Human resources management involvement is essential to not only improve productivity and retention, but to be more appealing to internationally mobile employees.

The housing location is an important issue that requires more professional attention than is usually given. Forming partnerships with specialised organisations in this field, such as Htel Serviced Apartments, is a step in the right direction—it keeps the attention to the four challenges that are necessary for international HRM in retaining and assisting international employees.



Contributed by Htel Serviced Apartments


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