AGS Worldwide Movers

The secret to effective family support by a global mobility insider

Whether we’ve seen the end of the nuclear family is debatable. What’s not up for argument is the fact that family has changed immeasurably since global corporations began moving employees around the world.

Posted in: AGS Relocation news
Published Date: 11 July 2024

A Happy Expat Family Embracing Support, by a Global Mobility Insider

Understanding that family support is key to a successful assignment, we asked the People Director of a global electronics firm what they thought was the biggest priority when it came to this critical topic.

Their response was equally insightful and personal. The biggest takeaway? Make it personal.


Big decisions with big consequences

In this era of global working, the idea of family – and its connectedness – is something I feel very strongly about. Because of my dad’s career, my childhood involved living in five countries. Other people, who I would never meet, made decisions that changed everything for me and my family.

Now, working with HR teams and executives all around the world, I’m making decisions that will change the lives of other expat families. Families that I’ll never meet. As People Director of a global firm, my decisions can lead to the needs of these families not being met. And I know how that feels.

You could say that my life has been one long learning curve. It’s no surprise that I’ve found myself where I am. Along the way, I’ve understood that, while you can’t avoid upheaval and disruption in an international move, you can provide support for the family to help meet their complex needs. Over the years, the more I’ve focussed on support, the more I’ve learned about what that means and how it should be done.


All shapes and sizes

Effective Strategies for Achieving a Balanced Life Within Expat Relocation

The first thing I’ve learned is that family comes in all shapes and sizes. We have employees relocating out of Asia with dependent parents as well as children. People in same sex relationships are moving to countries with differing levels of acceptance and acknowledgement. There are cases where partners sacrifice their own careers for the sake of our employees. We’ve seen split families, where a parent and child(ren) remain at home and the employee flies in and out. We also have a single dad of four – all under the age of 14 – who is MD of one of our Asian subsidiaries and needs to remain very close to our head office in Germany.

As well as seeing the real complexity we are faced with, I’ve also learned that no company can detail every possible scenario when it comes to expat family support. The world is too different for that. Policies and People Handbooks cannot hope to contain an infinite number of possibilities – and that’s what the world offers. So, we have to be flexible and work on principle. Our mantra is simple – Be Human.


Considerate and flexible

Professionals Offering Guidance on Global Mobility, Showcasing the Importance of Support When Relocating Abroad

Our employees are where they are because we want and need them to be there. So long as they’re able to do what they need to do, it should be their decision as to how it works. We’re there to support them however we can.

Our most recent example is Gunit. An Indian national, he is Managing Director of our Asian entity. We need him in role for at least the next five years. He’s a highflyer, he exceeds targets, and HQ loves him. So, we make work work for him. On the weeks that he has the kids, we help him find balance in his daily life. A nanny, school pick up, etc. Importantly, we make sure Gunit knows that family comes first.

Say, for example, he needs to work from home, because his youngest isn’t feeling well – it’s understood and accepted that he will work from home. Besides, it works both ways. When his kids are with his ex-partner, he knows that we’ll need him out there, travelling to regional offices, meeting clients and being with the team. A clear understanding, contractually agreed, that supports him to be the dad he needs to be.

For the partners staying at home or putting their career on pause for the sake of our employees, we offer all sorts of support. We’ve helped some found their own companies and we’ve helped others go back to school. We accept and acknowledge the demands we’ve placed upon them, and at the very least, we help them maintain the balance of their daily lives. In the same way we support Gunit with his.

For colleagues in Hong Kong, wanting a career without borders but feeling a sense of responsibility for their aging parents, we’ve supported multiple generations throughout assignments. Where we haven’t been directly involved, we’ve allowed extra budget to cover the additional cost. It preserves family ties and keeps traditions and history alive.


Think globally, act locally

The cost of all of this? It’s relatively minimal, considering that we have operations in 27 countries. Meanwhile, the impact is huge. And positive. As acknowledged by our VP of People, our MD and our board.

We are quick to remind employees like Gunit that family comes first. For me, that connectedness – in an increasingly disbursed world – is right at the top of my priorities. We’re a global company, with a global workforce and we act with a global mindset, except when it comes to family. When it comes to family, I act locally. I acknowledge the disruption, and I make decisions that meet the family’s needs. Even if I never meet the family itself.


Policies as varied as your employees and their families

At AGS, we know it isn’t possible to create distinct policies for every eventuality. However, we can help you build enough flexibility into your global mobility policy so that the support it offers is as varied as your employees and their families.

Contact us today for a no-obligation discussion of your global mobility needs.