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Making Long-Term International Assignments Successful

Author: Matthew Howse, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP


  • International assignments offer an excellent way for organizations to achieve international business objectives. See Why Organizations Use International Assignments.
  • Organizations often invest a lot of time and money to ensure the success of international assignments. By following best practices when preparing for and managing an international assignment, an organization helps ensure success, which can bring many benefits to both the organization and the employee. See The Importance of Following Best Practices.
  • Some employers identify potential candidates for an international assignment early in their careers, so that employees can prepare for the challenges of the assignment. The selection of a candidate for an international assignment involves considering the employee's strengths and weaknesses. The employer should not make assumptions and decisions based on an employee's protected characteristic. See Selecting the Candidate.
  • A flexible international assignment arrangement could enable an employee with childcare or eldercare responsibilities to accept an assignment. See Flexibility.
  • Ongoing communication between the home employer and the employee before, during and after an international assignment is essential for managing the employee's expectations and ensuring that he or she feels supported throughout the assignment. See Communication.
  • During an international assignment, the employer should continue to evaluate the employee's performance and review the employee's salary and expense allowances. It is also important for the employer to provide the employee with career development opportunities. See Performance Appraisals, Career Development and Salary Reviews.
  • If an international assignee's performance or conduct falls below acceptable standards, the employer should deal with the issue quickly. See Discipline.
  • Helping an international assignee make arrangements for his or her home property during the assignment and find suitable housing in the host country can be crucial to the assignee's peace of mind and happiness. See Housing.
  • Support from the home employer to prepare an assignee for the cultural and practical changes that lie ahead can play a big part in helping him or her to feel part of the local community in the host country. See Integration into the New Community.
  • Central to the success of many international assignments is the happiness of the employee's accompanying partner. The organization should consider how it can help the partner acclimate to the host country. See Support for the Employee's Partner.
  • Many organizations help international assignees who have children find appropriate schools and pay for private-school tuition. See Support for Employees With Children.
  • An organization should consider providing support to other members of the assignee's family when the assignment has a significant impact on them. See Support for Other Family Members.
  • The employer should consider putting into place procedures to help the assignee in an emergency situation. See Emergencies.
  • Organizations can assist international assignees with the many other practical arrangements involved in relocating abroad, such as obtaining visas, work permits and other required travel documents from host countries. See Other Practical and Financial Support.
  • Organizations should communicate regularly with assignees before and during the assignment about their career development following the international assignment. See The Employee's Return to the Home Country.
  • Organizations should review the successes and pitfalls of previous international assignments to improve their international assignments program. See Learning from Previous Assignments.