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Is the assignment right for you?

For employees to progress in their career, it is highly likely that they will be asked to take on more responsibilities, and in some cases, more assignments. This is even more relevant for high-prospect employees, who have been identified as potential leaders and have a strong future in the business. However, not all assignees will accept an assignment first-hand, and many prospective assignments will involve negotiations and amendments to the initial contracts as a result.

There are many reasons why an assignee may reject an assignment, so it is important for businesses to ensure that they are not only considering costs, but also employee happiness also. Expats as a whole are much more likely to succeed if they are given flexibility to accept or decline an assignment, but while it is important for businesses to provide this opportunity to their employees, the structuring of this assignment can lead to much more success. Here, we’re taking a look at when assignees are more likely to say yes to an assignment, and what businesses need to consider in order to ensure this.

Strategic assignments

International assignments can involve numerous physical and mental limits that some employees may struggle to cope with. Businesses should ensure that they have put appropriate time and research into planning an assignment, tailored to an individual assignee. Each assignee’s needs will vary, but ensuring that all requirements are identified, and appropriate intercultural training is implemented, will encourage prospective employees to accept the challenge.

It is also important that employees are approached with an assignment that offers numerous development opportunities and features some form of direction. Some businesses will produce assignments that can lead their assignees to becoming bored and frustrated, should they take it on, and ultimately this can lead to a costly repatriation effort prior to the assignment’s end date. Integrating a form of bespoke strategy and effective planning when developing assignments will help to ensure that employees are more likely to say yes. With repatriate turnover reaching up to 38% , it is also important that businesses have a key strategy in place for the employee once they return from their assignment, to ensure job deprivation is not a risk.

Aligning with employee goals

If an assignment is in line with the employee’s key career goals and objectives, it is much more likely that the employee will then agree to the assignment. Many companies expect their employees who are aspiring leaders to work abroad, as this can lead to a development of intercultural competencies which helps employees to learn the inner workings of a global corporation. Understanding the goals of the target assignee can help to ensure that the assignment is focussed on the direction that the employee is looking to move in, which will ultimately help to boost the acceptance success rate.

The implications on employees who turn down assignments 

While it is acceptable, and somewhat common, for assignments to be turned down by employees, this could have an impact later on in the employee’s career. A theoretical model on the implications of turning down an international assignment showed that the career consequences will ultimately depend on the employee’s psychological contract with the business. This refers to employers who may not explicitly discuss that an assignment abroad is required for advancement during the recruitment process, but will deem a rejection of assignment to be a ‘breach of contract’, which could ultimately result in fewer career development opportunities. However, being open to negotiations can help to ensure that this is not a risk on both sides – from a business investment and a career development perspective. Openness and honesty can help to ensure that all requirements are met from both ends, increasing the chances of employees agreeing to an assignment.

For more information on arranging assignments and supporting employees who are working overseas, please get in touch with a member of our expert team today.

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