By Anne Morgan, CRCE Business Development Manager
18 April, 2013
This article was originally published in the April/May issue of AustCham Singapore's publication The Southern Star. To view the full publication, please click here.
It’s no secret that it is eye-wateringly expensive to move employees around the globe. A recent survey conducted by Towers Watson and Workforce Mobility Association Worldwide ERC, found that the average cost of relocating a global assignee is two to three times the assignee’s annual salary. The survey also found that there is a strong trend towards less costly expatriate packages, with more assignees taking a ‘local’ or ‘local plus’ contract. So, what does this mean for the family? There are some interesting answers to this question.
The Trailing Spouse
Firstly, companies are usually keen for families to accompany assignees as there is strong evidence of marital pressure if the family it is left behind. And, then there’s the ‘dual’ career issue. Not being able to pursue their chosen career can be psychologically distressing for the accompanying partner.
Some of the issues faced can be summed up in the following quotes from accompanying partners (source: ‘A career in your suitcase’, Jo Parfitt, Lean Marketing Press, 2008):
Many companies baulk at the thought of providing spousal support, thinking it is expensive, but there is strong evidence to suggest that the benefits of providing such
services are huge.
Cathy Loose, a Director of Towers Watson says, “Family network groups, career support beyond cursory job searches and skill development workshops, are some possibilities which companies can explore to provide ongoing support to an assignee’s family members”. This can be a lifeline and can make the difference between a successful assignment and a costly failure.
- “My loss of job, loss of self-esteem and an imbalance in my relationship is very stressful.”
- “By not being able to continue with my career I am made to feel like a second–class citizen.”
- “I had no idea how much my self-worth was tied to my career.”
Support through CRCE Workshops
In Singapore, one cost-effective solution to providing such support is the Career Resource Center for Expatriates (CRCE). It organises a series of workshops that focus on assisting accompanying partners
to be strategic and well organised, arming them with the latest information on work visas, working in Singapore and networking tips. Members have access to a job board where employers can post vacancies free of charge.
CRCE has relationships with multinational companies with large numbers of assignees.By listening to their needs and the needs of trailing partners, CRCE has honed its service to provide expats with much more than a vehicle for finding work. Workshops have expanded to include current ‘hot’ topics, such as personal branding and the use of social media in job searching, as well as traditional subjects, including résumé writing and interviewing skills. Providing a supportive and proactive network is central to all workshops.
One CRCE member, Roz Mounter from Scotland says, “Having attempted to go it alone and apply for jobs online, I learned the hard way that this will, in my experience, result in a polite “No, thank you” at most. However, once I started to use the network I had created, then opportunities started to appear. After looking for work for several months, I started my new job in September, which is 100% down to a contact I made at my first CRCE workshop”.
In a rapidly mobilising workforce, it is important to ensure the whole family is supported in an international move. This is especially true if the accompanying partner wishes to work.