Cultural issues contributing to increased assignment failure rate

Published:  24 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: Money
Relocating overseas as a career move is always a stressful experience, but cultural issues can make it the worst choice ever.

Over the past four years, assignment failure rates have increased from 4.9 to 7.2 per cent, with the major reason an inability to cope with lifestyle adjustments due to cultural issues. Sometimes it’s the expat professional who can’t assimilate and sometimes it’s his family, but the result is the same – a failed assignment. Other causes include feelings of isolation, problems learning a new language, safety and security issues and problems with accommodation or childrens’ schooling.

International companies with over 10,000 employees are experiencing the highest rate of assignment failures, with an average of one in every 12 expat professionals giving up and returning home. Given the time, huge expense and effort involved in arranging assignments and the disruption caused by early termination, the trend is worrying, to say the least. The increase in numbers of overseas workers who terminate their contracts early seems to be down to unrealistic expectations and the actual reality of the job and its location.

Around 50 per cent of employers report assignees gave dissatisfaction with the role itself as the reason for their leaving, although three out of every five companies accuse the assignees of underperforming, thus causing their termination. Whatever the reasons given by employers, it’s clear that failure to adapt to changing circumstances is a trigger causing many expats to terminate their contracts.

Adjusting to the expat lifestyle invariably changes relationships between couples and their children, as well as impacting friendships and relations with extended families back in the home country. In addition, those returning from overseas assignments often find adjusting to the life they left is as disturbing as getting used to differing cultural norms whilst overseas.

Source: Money International
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