Panic in the ranks? Top tips to lure ex-pats to Oz

by Stephanie Zillman13 Jun 2012

The mayors of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth may have dollar signs in their eyes as all three cities have made it onto the global list of the top 20 most expensive cities for ex-pats – but the news is more likely to leave HR panicked.

The latest Mercer cost-of-living survey revealed the extent of the uphill battle in enticing overseas talent to make the move. As the living away from home allowance (LAFHA) is due to be scrapped for ex-pats from 1 July, the spotlight is firmly on strategies to both retain international professionals already here, and keep the talent streams flowing.

According to recent research by consulting firm Robert Walters, while many professionals will be seeking higher remuneration to compensate for the loss of the tax concession and the high cost of living in Australia, there are steps employers can take to counteract the negative news. “To avoid staff retention becoming costly [especially in those industries with a high proportion of overseas professionals] employers should be using non-financial draw cards to retain the best talent. Luckily, this country and industries have a lot of them,” Sinead Hourigan from Robert Walters said.

Based on research and recruitment expertise, the following are best-practice tips on how to navigate the post-LAFHA recruitment world.

1. Sell Australia

Australian cities consistently rank highly in global surveys measuring quality of living.

Australia continues to offer world class working conditions for overseas expatriates, and is a safe haven from political unrest. Make sure you explain to candidates that the Australian economy survived the GFC relatively unscathed and that the economy is still growing due to the continued resources boom.

2. Use your company culture

A company’s reputation as an employer is one of the most important factors in a candidate’s decision to work for them. Professionals will judge a company’s potential as an employer primarily on their ‘fit’ with the company’s vision, culture, and values. When your culture feels right to the desired candidate, the probability of convincing them to relocate to Australia is increased.

3. Provide career progression

Research consistently shows that career progression is key to motivating and retaining professionals, and often outranks remuneration as the most desirable attribute to potentialemployees. Give all professionals a clear path to progression, growth and education. Not only does this add a sense of value, but a more structured approach to career developmentcan be directly linked to employee retention and engagement.

4. Make the move easy for family

There needs to be a defined approach to offering a package that not only serves thebusiness and candidate, but also their families. The decision to leave your current role andcommunity behind and uproot your family is one that is not taken lightly. There should be a focus on creating an attractive environment for the entire family, ensure living arrangements will suit, while developing programs and support systems that will assist with the transition.

5. Provide an appropriate remuneration package

The importance of offering candidates an appropriate remuneration package has been heightened because of the removal of LAFHA allowances. Organisations can no longer paylower salaries in the knowledge that LAFHA entitlements will provide the candidate with a healthy salary. It’s important to be aware of local living costs and housing prices. A candidate might have received a lower salary in their home country but to make the offer ofa move to Australia as attractive as possible your job offer needs to be in line with localmarket rates and provide the candidate with a good standard of living.


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