Due to the increasing globalization of the marketplace, many companies now relocate staff to establish and develop their business in foreign countries. HR plays an important role in preparing these expatriate employees and their families for their new environment.

HR's Role

Many employees are reluctant to accept foreign assignments because of family concerns and the lack of support programs. Through training, HR can make the transition easier for expatriate employees and their families. HR can provide crucial support before, during and after relocation.


Cross-cultural training assists the expatriate and his family to understand cultural differences in their new country. It reduces the stress of the relocation and provides coping strategies. The expatriate receives coaching in areas such as business etiquette, interpersonal communication, leadership styles and labor relations. The family receives important information on local culture, schooling, transportation, health care and other services.


If the expatriate fails to adapt to the new culture or work with his new colleagues, the company will have wasted money, time and effort on the assignment. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a three-year international assignment can cost more than $3 million. Cross-cultural differences can negatively affect both the employee and his family. Dissatisfaction and poor performance will eventually damage client relationships and business operations.