Death, divorce and moving house are recognised as the three most stressful things one has to deal with in their lifetime. An international move could bring real headaches for your staff, so what can you do to make the transition as easy as possible on your employee and ensure they are happy and productive?

Plan ahead

Though the move may seem a long way away now, making sure you and your employee have as much time as possible to prepare is essential. Ben Tyrrell, Head of international relocations service couldn’t agree more: ‘Getting organised early on helps everyone to understand the reality and gives a timeline that you can work towards.’ As soon as the move is confirmed, encourage your employee to draw up a list of things they need to organise.

Pick a reliable comprehensive moving service

One of the most worrying aspects for employees moving abroad is how to pack up their entire homes and send them safely to their new destination. Thankfully, there are companies that can manage all aspects of this process for you, making your employee feel looked after and relaxed about relocating, while you can focus on the professional aspects of the move. Be careful not to just pick the most cost effective firm, but the one you feel understands your staff’s needs.

‘Get a few quotes on removal costs’, Ben Tyrrell suggests, ‘I would recommend getting six, and whittling down to three and then working with your employee to ensure the moving quotes within budget and they are happy with the mover of choice. It helps for your employee to have some control over this process rather than be dictated to – these are their personal possessions, so involvement here is crucial.’

‘We work with a lot of international companies who have learnt from regularly moving staff across the globe that handling the packing and shipping with care can make all the difference. Staff have enough to worry about with relocating to a new office, and are often moving their family with them, so taking the stress out of this aspect can transform the process for your workforce. A good removals company will help you organise and label boxes, as well as doing all the heavy lifting.’

Help your employee feel informed about their new country

Giving your employee information and tips about their destination can make them feel more comfortable with the move and prepare them for any possible culture shocks. Ask staff who are already working there to provide good tips and a list of top things to know, and create a helpful information pack they can look at before they move.  Good areas to live in, places to visit on the weekend and any local food specialities are  only small things, but they give your employee an understanding of what their day to day life will be like once they arrive.

Think about timings

Most shipments take 3 – 6 weeks, so even with the most meticulously planned international move there is likely to be a point where your employee is without their belongings and potentially in an unfurnished home in a new city. Providing an interim serviced apartment can sometimes be a good stop-gap and help to ease this transition until they are reunited with their possessions.

Ben Tyrrell advises: ‘Find temporary accommodation in their new local area as this will help them feel settled when they get to move into their house, present three or so options and let your employee choose so they will feel informed.’

Stress Proxies: Kids, Partners and Animals

Don’t forget about the rest of the family. Worrying about how their significant others will fit into their new surroundings will often be one of the biggest concerns for employees moving abroad. Make sure that before they accept the new role they have thought about whether or not their partner can work in their new location, whether they can take their beloved dog with them and how their new location works for everyone involved.

For those with kids, stress points will be schools (in some countries school places are in extremely short supply – Singapore and Hong Kong are two such markets). Encourage employees to research these aspects early on so they don’t reach stumbling blocks close to their big move.

Ultimately, moving abroad is a huge commitment from your employee to your company so the most important thing is that they feel appreciated and supported. This can be achieved by checking in with them regularly, providing them with any information they need and giving help where possible. Though it is billed as a stressful thing, moving abroad can also present your employee with a host of new experiences, career opportunities and exciting changes. The key point is to make sure the admin and organisation is covered so everyone can get the most out of it.

Grace Garland works for Move Hub.