Family first — how can you organise successful international assignments when children are part of the package?

Global Mobility professionals are resourceful and resilient, designing and delivering successful relocation packages often to remote parts of our planet. When a move involves a family, things get more complex, requiring greater care and consideration.

In this edition of Reloverse, we share some of the fresh tips and tools available right now to help Global Mobility and HR professionals reduce the rates of early repatriation or failure for families in their talent pool.

Winning ways

Taking a career halfway across the world to a new country and culture can be challenging. For kids, that move can be doubly daunting: it means abandoning friendship groups and all things familiar—whether they’re three years old or a teenager. We help thousands of customers and clients every year to execute the perfect plan, advising on the stepping stones assignees and their families navigate to succeed as they work, live and thrive in new places around the world. Here are some winning ways for those whose job involves international integration.

Equal weight

As an employer, professionalism and performance are paramount. For even the most ambitious employee, though, family can be at the forefront of their mind. So consideration for children must be given equal weight to commercial goals in the lead-up to an overseas assignment. Many organisations rely on internal mentoring networks or signpost staff to expat forums online. Others, guided by company or country culture don’t want to interfere in the private lives of their staff beyond having a duty of care. This means support is focussed on the practicalities of education and the hot topic of tuition fees, rather than family wellbeing throughout the lifetime of the assignment.

Ready-made tools

Today, Global Mobility professionals can access child-friendly partners and policies without paying a substantial premium for consultancy. This includes tried and tested training and toolkits like the ones we provide in partnership with international family experts, Expat Valley. Together we can proactively report on the preparedness of your organisation to provide world-class family relocation.

This can be as simple as interactive inspiration sessions packed with insights and real-world experience—or a detailed survey, report and roadmap to measure and improve how family-friendly your relocation programmes actually are. These tools are specifically designed to improve talent attraction as well as retention and can be used directly in recruitment activity.

We also provide our customers and clients with minutely detailed guidance when organising the physical move. And comprehensive, up-to-date destination guides through our online portal—which you’re welcome to white label and repurpose under your own brand, to reduce risk and free up time. They help build an understanding of the pressures professionals feel outside of the workplace … specifically the hopes, needs and dreams of their children.

Prepare to be excited

Kids are smart—and even well-adjusted ones still worry. They have naturally inquisitive, busy brains. So the organisation (not the parent) explaining the reasons for their time overseas and their place in it can be a great start, rather than simply jumping into describing the differences of a destination country.

Fears of feeling unadjusted, unhappy, unusual or simply homesick play on children’s minds. And whilst a handful of expat destinations restrict social media and VPN connections, young people need to know they won’t feel isolated online. Video chat, messaging and gaming can help them retain relationships as they transition to new social and school settings.

Children pick up on emotions, so positive parenting is also something Global Mobility professionals can educate their executives in—describing the opportunity and optimism of being specially selected for the role and relocation. This is something our Expat Valley partner brings to the table. In so many sectors there’s now a finite talent pool, and plenty of parental guilt can come with being an international worker. It’s a challenge our new partnership is tackling head-on with our clients as we listen, educate and inform.

Second shock

We asked Karlijn Jacobs, CEO and Founder at Expat Valley, for her thoughts on what GM and HR professionals can do to deliver successful international family relocations. She said “It’s no surprise that families face challenges when the climate, language, and customs that surround them feel foreign. During the consideration and moving phase, there’s been excitement and intrigue— and an emotional state in months one and two that FIDI describes as the honeymoon phase. In the following three-months, many experience a second culture shock as practical corporate support falls away. Together with Santa Fe, we provide a more holistic, joined-up approach to go beyond a duty of care, providing confidential, practical family support that really can make the difference between a successful and a failed assignment. This is a proactive approach to pre-departure preparation that validates the fact that all families struggle to some degree with feelings of isolation and alienation. We provide practical tools such as a family needs assessment upfront, reducing the need for reactive measures when something has already reached what the family considers a crisis point”.

Support to succeed

Having a cost-effective, confidential resource on the side of the family that GM professionals can draw on is a real asset for families in-country. A range of ready-made solutions such as one-to-one coaching sessions, a moderated family support community and online meet-ups help them adjust and recover from culture shock as they accept and master the process of transition.

A partner to help you plan

The timing of family moves can be challenging, especially aligning them with school calendars worldwide. If you’re looking for an expert partner who understands how to create more child-centric, successful international assignments, we would love to support you and your teams. Simply drop an email to and we’ll get back to you.

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