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Family Frustrations Consistently at Forefront of Assignment Failures

In the current economic climate, it is easy for companies to focus their efforts and resources on the financial aspect of relocations to ensure they are as efficient as possible. You may be focused on issues such as:

House sale
Relocation allowances
Household goods quotation

However, what is the most important part of a successful assignment that is frequently ignored?

The Transferees' and their families settlement and personal acclimation

Companies who overlook the importance of this fact are ignoring the overwhelming evidence that the management of the transferees' settling-in directly impacts their assignment success.

It is Coppergate’s experience that transferees’ agree to relocations for two predominant reasons: financial incentives and career development. However, transferees work productively and stay the course of their assignment for very different reasons.

Once the reality of being away from home, friends, family and familiarity takes hold, it won’t be the amount of furniture you allowed them to bring or the sale of their house that will keep them happy and productive. It will be their experience of the relocation itself and how much stress or disillusionment that left them with.

We guarantee they will also hold strong feelings surrounding how well they were supported prior to and immediately after their arrival when they need help integrating seamlessly into their new home.

Coppergate recently conducted a survey, and the results are in. The key areas transferees consistently identified as being important to minimize problems and aid settlement are:

  1. Feeling confident that help is at hand for any and all questions
  2. Schooling guidance (for families)
  3. Housing assistance
  4. Government, Financial and Insurance infrastructure

Our advice to enhance these areas would be:

1. Feeling confident that help is at hand for any and all questions

If external help from a service like Coppergate is not provided, it is imperative that one point of contact is allocated internally to manage the employees’ requirements. These needs will fluctuate from their decision to relocate, through to their full time arrival and beyond. Allowing the employee the comfort of knowing questions will be answered quickly and confidentially plays a key role in a smooth relocation and settlement process.

2. Schooling Guidance

Allowing employees to simply research their options personally or consult with colleagues can prove a costly mistake for companies both financially and for the ongoing settlement of the family. We would recommend that clear advice is given regarding the overall schooling system of the Host location, as well as details on private versus public education. So many expatriates believe the private route is the automatic one to take, without fully considering what is best for their individual circumstances.

Discussion and evaluation at the very beginning of a relocation decision can ensure a quicker and happier settlement, not just for the employee, but for all members of the family.

3. Housing Assistance

Understanding where they will be able to call home is a key psychological requirement for a happy relocation. Companies must ensure they remain up to date with fluctuating market rates to enable their employees to secure appropriate accommodation. Clear guidelines on what costs are included in housing allowances, and whether purchase or leasing is encouraged, and whether or not the lease will be in the company’s name or the employee’s name, should form a major part of your realty policy.

4. Government, Financial and Insurance infrastructure

Gaining a foundation in all of the above is of key importance to settlement, both psychologically and practically. Obtaining government identity (such as Social Security cards in the US), allow employees to begin acquiring credit, purchasing large goods, and fundamentally fit into “the system.” If there is any delay or misunderstanding with any of these facets, it can lead to unnecessary stresses on the relocating employee as well as the family.

If you would like to add your own thoughts or experiences to this article, please feel free to email us at

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