The number of highly-skilled Indian employees moving abroad is fast-growing. Rohit Kumar, Managing Director and Co-Owner at IKAN Relocations, highlights three key challenges faced by Indian international hires and foreign assignees in the United Kingdom (UK) and how Human Resources (HR) and global mobility teams can help them settle in abroad.
The Lack of Intercultural Knowledge Hinders the Integration Of Indian Expats Indian expat employees tend to be young and highly-educated international hires or foreign assignees, in what is likely to be their very first relocation. As many of them lack the intercultural knowledge of the Western world, they usually find themselves at sea in their early days abroad. The language differences represent one of the initial challenges they face when moving to the UK. Living in Western-style homes is another key challenge for Indian expats, as their eating, cooking, and toilet habits need to be replaced with Western customs.
Indian Expats Are Often Sent Abroad on Short Lead Time Many Indians are hired immediately after graduation and sent abroad on the very first opportunity, so they tend to relocate at incredibly short notice. Many companies offer cultural sensitivity courses, however these don’t include families and are imparted in large groups, losing their effectiveness. Furthermore, when receiving this type of information in one day, the knowledge that’s shared is naturally quite limited. Indian expats need more support before being put on the bench. As India is an inclusive family culture, relocating spouses play an important role for a successful foreign assignment or international placement and should also receive support to integrate quickly into the local community. There are many differences between India and the UK — adapting to such a different environment can be challenging and this can result in psychological issues, including depression.
Social Integration Support Is Rarely Included In Relocation Programs While lump-sum and relocation support are usually offered to Indian expat employees, they need more social integration support. As many young expats tend to use the help of friends and relatives to settle into the UK, to save on rent and enjoy a familiar home, the money they receive are often not used for the purpose they were intended for. Also, this hinders their social integration abroad. Indian expats need some hand-holding and support from day one rather than just offering the lump-sum, as is the current practice. Support with the school admission process, identifying the best community to live in within their budgets, and negotiating with the landlords in the UK would certainly help.
Read the full Ask the Expert interview with Rohit Kumar, Managing Director and Co-Owner at IKAN Relocations, to find out more about the onboarding and integration support that Indian employers need to provide to Indian expats and their relocating spouses.