Imagine this scenario; you’re the Human Resources Manager of a large international organisation and you been tasked with overseeing an employee relocating to Australia.
There are no disputes from the individual, as they’re keen on the opportunity of settling Down Under, meaning any crisis from an Employment Law standpoint has been averted. So you’ve ironed out the Tax and Payroll issues; the relevant visas have now been acquired for the employee and their immediate family; the plane tickets are booked and the temporary accommodation is sorted.
Everything seems set for the employee physically relocating to Australia, so your job is pretty much done and dusted. Or is it?
An employee relocating to Australia with a family is obviously going to have some implications when you consider the wider impact on the spouse and children. Wendy Jenkins, Director and Founder of online Relocation Company Moving2plan believes that family issues are the biggest challenges that relocatees will face:
“Challenges include the stress imposed on the partner to sort out the accommodation, schooling and family life while the employee concentrates on their new role. The partner may also not be able to secure their preferred employment causing both financial and self-esteem issues.
Children can also have a huge impact on the success of a move if they are not supported during and after the relocation.
Relocating individuals and families will also suffer degrees of cultural shock; a term thrown around a lot but with serious ramifications if the individuals don’t have good coping mechanisms, such as networking to build support groups.
It can be very expensive to have an unhappy expatriate returning home before the end of their assignment.”
It’s not just an employee relocating to Australia from overseas either; organisations moving staff within the country could also require additional assistance, as Wendy mentions:
“There is a common misperception by employees that relocating to another part of Australia will be easy as it’s part of the same country. However, many relocatees still face similar challenges to their expatriate colleagues and organisations need to ensure that adequate relocation and settlement support is provided.
Children will still be unhappy at leaving their friends behind and the responsibility of organising home life will usually still fall on the partner; it is always daunting to build up new networks no matter what your age or experience. Relocation and settlement support is therefore key to a successful international or domestic move, whether online or in person.”
In order to ensure a smooth transition when moving employees into or around Australia, you can engage the services of Relocation Companies to assist you and the individual. Sue Pember, Managing Director of Aussie Orientation Services in Perth, believes that it is important to contact the Relocation Agent at the very start of the process:
“Relocation begins at Hello!
Make sure you involve the Relocation Company from the beginning, as soon as they have been notified of a transfer or accepted the position. The agent can then set a clear scene of the type of properties that are in their budget. This also helps with the anxiety of the family as they have someone to answer their questions about their up-coming move.
Also choose a relocation agent that has an ongoing support program and offers Cultural Awareness training.”
Whilst some may believe that employing a Relocation Company could be a costly experience, Sue also highlights the occasions where companies have decided to mostly ‘go it alone’ initially, which almost spelled out a financial disaster for both the employee and organisation:
“We recently had a client who employed two Oil & Gas professionals from the UK and did not provide any assistance other than removal of goods and 1 week’s accommodation; no-one even met them at the airport when they arrived.
The company called us after they had been here for 6 weeks, as one family had already left to go back to the UK. The other was on the verge of leaving and had been costing the company a fortune with short-term accommodation (over $2000 per week), as there was nothing else available on such short notice.
The HR Manager called me on a Friday afternoon to explain the situation and within 10 minutes, one of our consultants made contact and invited them to our client BBQ on the Sunday, which they attended and met other families that had just arrived.
We then started looking at properties on the Monday and by Wednesday, we secured a lease on an excellent home in one of the best school zones in Perth.
The family is very happy now, especially as they nearly rented a property in an area that did not have as good a school and was much further away from the CBD.”
So, if you just so happen to be a HR Director who is overseeing an employee relocating to Australia, perhaps consider contacting a Relocation Company before you go any further; it could potentially save your organisation from a logistical and financial nightmare.
BY THE EMPLOYEE MOBILITY INSTITUTE