The Emotional Effects of an International Relocation

                                       Good employers are recognising that moving talent overseas

                                              can trigger mental health issues if they’re not careful!

                                                         By: Ann Dinsdale, GMS - Senior Vice President 


Employers are becoming more aware of the emotional and mental effects of relocating their talent overseas and are taking it ever more seriously.

According to recent studies, the negative effects of relocation are becoming more common, affecting employees’ performance in their new jobs and often leading to early termination of contracts. At the increasing speed that the business world moves nowadays, settling into an entirely new environment, coping with language problems and adapting to life in a foreign area all cause stresses which are often ignored or just forgotten about by businesses.

Moving people abroad is not cheap - the latest figures estimate an average of £90,000 ($123,000 US per move!) At this large cost, business leaders obviously want to ensure that every employee succeeds in their overseas assignment. Delivering that success will never be easy when aspects of the move trigger emotional and mental health issues in the employee.

My corporate clients have found that investing in highly personalised and tailored relocation support goes a long way to ensuring smooth inbound and outbound experiences for their key employees.

Such support can take many forms, but the basic components are:

  • Home-Finding Assistance Providing a home-finding support eliminates the stress associated with navigating a foreign international rental market.
  • Schooling Assistance Their children’s education is the top priority for most parents.  Finding and securing the right school places for each child in an unfamiliar, often complex education system can be a nightmare without good assistance.
  • Ongoing Support Ensuring employees have immediate access to expert assistance throughout their assignment.
  • Settling-In Assistance Helping staff set up bank accounts, medical, dental and other local services means they are happily settled into their new life abroad as quickly as possible so they can focus on the work they’ve been sent to do.

Couple Departure assistantAt the end of the assignment, it makes good sense to provide Departure Assistance to help them move out of the host country.  From arranging end-of-tenancy cleaning, cancelling utilities, recovering deposits and resisting any unreasonable dilapidation claims, there will be many elements to ensure staff have a smooth departure.



One of the major reasons for post-relocation depression is separation from family, friends and the familiar environment of home. Being a top-level executive does not insulate senior people from the lack of close family support on which even the most successful businessman depends in times of intense stress.

The struggle to learn a new language, adapt to different cultural norms in the workplace and become aware of the need for a new set of interpersonal skills can become overwhelming and devastating if not addressed by sympathetic employers. Ensuring newly arrived professionals are adjusting well is essential to a successful relocation.

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