When it comes to international assignments, there are a few points that need to be considered. There are five reasons for multinational expatriate failure from the United States personnel stationed internationally. Inability of the spouse to adjust, managers inability to adjust, other family problems, managers personal and emotional maturity, and inability to cope with larger overseas responsibilities. (Hill & Hult, 2019)
These five issues are all centered around one common element. That element is the mental health of the individuals that are assigned to this type of position. When it comes to the mental health of the employees it is highly important for the company to establish a set of protocols that provide resources for their employees. The company can also have trial periods for those who wish to take that position. They can start with periodic 1-week assignments to that location. This will allow them to feel what it would be like to be away from their normal.
The United States Military has gotten really good at setting up people for overseas assignment. One of the things that the military does for those who are taking overseas assignments, is make them go to briefings. In these briefing they describe the cultural differences of the area, the local laws, the dangerous areas to avoid. They give a handful of language lessons if the area requires it. For those who are going to the European countries, they are told about the various passes and destinations that the military gets access too. They get access to certain programs in order for them to stay in contact with those who are back in the United States.
Of course, these are not available for those who are deployed to a combat zone. However, they did establish a post deployment program that helps with the transition back to the United States. This is something that the multinational companies really need to take a look at. The reason for this is even if you have personnel that take assignment overseas and succeed will in what they are doing, coming home is hard. I know this from experience. After my first deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I came home and was overwhelmed with simple things. I had just spent 18 months living with access to one store. Not being able to call or see my family daily. I lost all connection on what the fiscal markets or political climates were. I didnt even know about the mortgage crash of 2008.
So, if companies want to get into the assignments overseas, they need to establish supporting programs for those employees. The real threat for the failure for these employees is isolation. This might seem weird because they are interacting with people every day. But they are isolated from their families. Some of these employees have never gone out of their home state. Isolation can increase the risk of death by 50% (Sandwood, 2017) These deaths are not just suicide but can be natural causes as well. The induction of stress and collapse of mental health can increase the symptoms that lead to heart attack or stroke. Build your programs that take care of the mental health of your employees. They are your greatest asset.
Hill, C. W., & Hult, G. T. (2019). International Business. McGraw-Hill Education.
Sandwood, J. (2017, September 1). How Isolation Impacts Mental Health. Retrieved March 5, 2020, from http://www.mhconn.org/uncategorized/isolation-impacts-mental-health/
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