Having to move to a new city--let alone a new country--used to be considered a pain. But the economy has changed drastically in recent years, and now, traveling abroad is often considered a perk.
Not only does the employee get to explore new areas and profoundly experience a new way of life, but the company also benefits: international assignments may offer a flexible schedule, making the job more attractive to potential new hires.
Recently, a MetLife study of over 2,600 American workers showed that those who work on international assignments are significantly happier and more committed to their company than those who work in the U.S.
The study mentions that two of the reasons expat workers value their companies so highly are the sense of stability and community provided. So, how can you use these principles to increase employee loyalty? The overarching principle is allocating both time and resources toward forming a solid team mentality across your staff.
As the co-founder of a completely remote company with many workers who live abroad, and as an expat myself, I have firsthand knowledge of why companies with overseas assignments have such a loyal workforce. And I also understand the damage that can occur when companies with employees on international assignments don't apply two core principles and instead alienate their workforce.
Whether or not your company has the capacity or obligation to send employees on travel-based assignments, you can use these tips to boost morale, loyalty, and employee retention.
How to Offer Remote Employees Stability and Community
If you can set aside time each week to get to know your employees on a personal level, you can build a sense of camaraderie that goes beyond typical work chitchat. This is even true if you've never met in person. Make sure when you allocate time for becoming acquainted that the get together doesn't include work-related topics. Time is precious when you work on a busy international team, and the time you've set aside is meant for teambuilding and community, not leftover questions from the workday.
Try a virtual happy hour and have some friendly questions in mind in case the conversation doesn't flow naturally from the get-go. In the era of online dating, many people are familiar with how to create meaningful relationships online, and the idea shouldn't feel new or awkward.
Giving employees stability is even more important when they work in a different country. Stability comes from a sense of trust rather than a lack of change, and so, make sure everyone on board has an understanding of what's next for the company. Always be clear with your employees about the goals and how you plan to make them a reality. Transparency, prompt feedback, and appropriate consequences (including both promotions and fair, well-defined firing processes) are key to building a sense of trust and stability.
By ensuring your employees feel the stability and community that are indispensable to companies with overseas workers, you'll be able to reap the same benefit of having fulfilled and committed team members.