Improve (Expat) Employee Onboarding with a 360-Degree Approach 

In any context, employee onboarding plays an important role to make new hires adjust to all aspects of their new job, but it plays an even more significant role for employers onboarding international hires. Therefore, employee onboarding — and more specifically expat employee onboarding — should be well-defined and well-structured. If not, there is a great risk of losing new hires.

InterNations Business Solutions Expat Employee Onboarding

The pressure of filling vacant positions makes many employers concentrate their energy and resources on optimizing recruiting efforts — focusing only on attracting and selecting the right candidates. The talent acquisition process is, however, not over once a contract is signed. A bad onboarding experience can lead to talent loss, while a good onboarding experience can lead to faster time-to-productivity by the new hire and overall satisfaction. Either way, employee onboarding greatly impacts business goals.


Defining 360-Degree Employee Onboarding

Employee onboarding defines a new hire’s first impression of an organization and determines the level of identification with and commitment to their new employer. It is a decisive factor for how fast employees can be productive at work and whether they fully contribute to business goals. According to Haufe, 28% of new hires resign even before their first workday. To increase employee engagement and commitment, it is critical to have a good onboarding structure and communication strategy from the start.

Practical and operative onboarding should also be accompanied by social integration that helps new hires to get to know their team and colleagues. By strengthening personal relationships, a basis for positive work collaboration is established and new hires feel more connected to the employer.


Why International Hires Need More Support

New hires need to learn everything about the organization, internal processes, and position, as well as get to know colleagues and the company culture. What employers tend to forget is that international employees will be confronted with additional challenges when starting in the new position. They must, for example, also learn about cultural differences and get a first orientation in the new country. They leave family and friends back home and also need to establish a new social network abroad.

Therefore, successful onboarding must achieve two core goals: that international hires feel welcome within the company and in their new home country. This makes well-planned onboarding a critical “tool” to ensure a smooth start and effective integration.


The Various Phases of Employee Onboarding

There are four core phases of employee onboarding that need to be considered:

  1. Expectations versus a lack of knowledge
  2. Excitement versus a first basic understanding
  3. Reality kicking in versus the realization of how complex things are and how much needs to be learned
  4. Integration and onboarding versus development, training, and orientation

The goal of an effective onboarding process is to support these phases, offer the respective emotional support, and prevent employee disappointment. Moreover, employers should structure these phases into various onboarding steps, such as pre-onboarding; getting to know the employer; sharing job expectations; practical training; ongoing feedback; and social support.


Why Social Integration Support Is Important

For international hires specifically, employee onboarding should go beyond just practical and operative onboarding at work. These expats need to find friends and establish a new social network — not just a good work relationship with their colleagues.

Findings from the Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition indicate that a quarter of international hires consider an early return and 41% don't feel at home abroad yet or don't think they ever will. Employers are responsible for ensuring that these expat employees settle in well. Successful onboarding in this context means making sure their basic needs are met. Employers also need to consider the background and culture of employees, as well as their family setup and individual needs. Concerns can be mitigated by offering them access to expat-relevant information and expat communities.


Employer Benefits of Solid Employee Onboarding

Click Boarding data indicates that employees who participate in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay with an organization for three years. Furthermore, according to a Bersin by Deloitte report, 22% of new employees quit their job within the first 45 days. Any cost of churn and turnover can, therefore, be reduced significantly by ensuring a smooth onboarding experience.

While employers often tend to focus on the logistical aspects of relocation and the initial onboarding of their international hires, settling in takes time. Employers benefit if these expat employees settle in well. Unhappy employees abroad cannot focus on work and be successful. Employers can, therefore, ensure faster time-to-productivity and improved success by having a 360-degree approach to their onboarding.

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