If you’re reading this, hiring people from abroad is probably at least part of your day job. And statistically speaking, there’s a good chance you’re bad at getting your expat team members engaged from day one.


Disclaimer: Maybe you’re amazing at onboarding, in which case, well done, you. But read this anyway, just to say you did.

Never stop onboarding

It’s as straightforward as this: Onboarding programs that last under a month bring down retention rates. Companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and boost productivity by over 70 percent. And yet, only 12 percent of employees believe their employers do a great job onboarding newbies.

Talk about low-hanging fruit!

Onboarding your new expat hire starts as soon as they accept your offer. And then it goes on…

… and on.

You might think you’ve hired a superstar who can learn on the fly and can just figure it all out on their own.


Well, you may well have hired a superstar for all we know. But being a quick learner does not equal “no handholding needed”.

From the moment you start arranging their relocation and immigration, it’s up to you to keep this person excited, engaged, and feeling safe.

Before they arrive

Once they’ve arrived

If you think you’re being terribly clever by throwing your new hires in the deep end and leaving them to their own devices, you’re really just being disorganized with your onboarding.

So get your head in the game and go for maximum effort. It’s worth it.

Get up close and personal with your support

People who are moving to a new country might be the curious, self-sufficient, independent types by default, but they’ll also have a million questions, countless moving parts to manage, and zero familiar things to hold on to as they make their transition.

In short, relocation is an anxious time.

One of your biggest tasks in this balancing act is maximizing your new hire’s excitement and engagement while bringing their anxiety to a minimum. And because everyone reacts to new environments differently, there’s a lot of room for customization in what kind of support you can offer. Find out what their biggest pain points are and be realistic about what you can do to help.

Whatever support you end up offering, make sure you’re not wasting your resources on stuff they don’t need.

Anchor them to your culture

Quite annoyingly, even with all our technological advancements, people are still only human. This is pretty trite, but you can’t automate the way people feel about you and the work environment you’re creating.

Every new hire is going to arrive with their own set of emotions, assumptions, cultural quirks, expectations, and everything else that humanity entails.

So you’re just going to have to take the time to deal with it.

But we’ve seen that it can be done, so you’re good. You got this.

When you're focusing your energy on optimizing and automating what you can—and we all do it—it becomes way too easy to distance yourself from the H in HR. Don’t fall into that trap.

When your employees lose their drive, “disengaged workforce” is just a neat way of talking about people who’ve had it up to their ears with your nonsense. “Trailing dependents” is an unemotional way to refer to real humans who have uprooted their lives for one family member’s career.

And “employee experience”? Just another way of saying that deep down, everyone just wants to be happy, even at work. With a brilliant oboarding process, you can make that happen.

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