Executive Relocation Requires More Research Into Today’s Politically Charged Environment
As our world becomes more complex, dangerous, and in many cases isolated, the prospects of recruiting and then relocating executives have become more challenging.
This is the case both domestically and internationally. Once welcomed and seen as a resume-builder, relocation today is frequently seen as risky by both the candidate and his/her family. As executives move up the corporate ladder in multi-national companies it is seen as a benefit for continued promotions. After all, working in foreign countries is viewed positively due to its challenges. In many instances it is still seen as a prerequisite for professional growth.
However, today these moves are met with more questions by candidates. Likewise, companies acknowledge that they must make concessions in terms of compensation and other expenditures.
A quick glance at headlines clearly illustrate why. While the threat of terrorism and crime heads the list, there are also other factors that come into play, making recruiting complex and challenging for companies seeking the finest talent worldwide.
Let's take a look at some of these challenges.
Security/Protection: Whether it's relocating to another city or overseas, the potential for terrorism and crime factor into the decision. At the highest levels, candidates and their families must feel safe. Many executives will require bodyguards and drivers. In certain countries where kidnappings occur, armored vehicles are commonplace. In addition, relocating families are urged not to be “showy” in public since it draws attention to their wealth.
Sensitivity to cultures: If the relocation is to a foreign country, it is important for candidates and families to respect new cultures. In many cases, it is helpful to speak the language and just as critical to understand local cultures and traditions.
Cost of living: While many countries report lower cost of living, these numbers can be deceiving. As recruiters, we always discuss the “real” numbers that can include real estate costs, security expenditures, tuition, and even airfares covering visits back to the United States to visit family. In addition, some countries have much higher tax rates than the United States, so that is factored into compensation.
Health insurance: This is certainly an ongoing issue for everyone. Executives considering relocating to another country should study this carefully as well as the quality of medical facilities. This should also be considered when moving within the United States, since certain cities have better healthcare services than others. Also, many countries have socialized medical care which is hard to compare when using the United States as a benchmark.
Technology: Technology in the United States and Europe is, for the most part, consistent and reliable. But that's not always the case in other countries. We urge candidates to become familiar with SKYPE, internet phone apps, currency converters and GPS systems, to name a few. By investigating technology, there will be no surprises when it comes to communicating with corporate headquarters, staff, and family/friends.
Additional due diligence: In today's politically charged environment, candidates are aware of research required before moving. This is true for international and even domestic relocations. For example, how does a move from a “blue” to “red” state impact one's opinion of an area? How will they mesh with friends of different political views? In some cases, it is magnified in foreign countries. What is the company's reputation in that country? How are women treated? Will your status as an American somehow jeopardize potential for success? How are women treated? Will you be ostracized for your political or religious beliefs.
As with all promotions and relocations, a win-win scenario must be the goal, benefiting both the company and the candidate. This cannot be accomplished unless there are realistic expectations based on research and transparency throughout the process.
Mark Young is a Director with the Miami office of Stanton Chase (www.stantonchase.com) , a global retained executive search firm with more than 70 offices in 45 countries. He has conducted numerous searches in Haiti, the Caribbean, and other international locations.
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