How to support employees relocating overseas

HRD talks to HSBC Expat to find out how to manage global talent mobility in our current climate

How to support employees relocating overseas

With travel restrictions being the norm this year, global talent mobility has become even trickier to manage.

However, employing a global and diverse workforce remains a valuable asset for many organisations, which is why some employers have kept their relocation programs running.

Take HSBC Expat for example, they’ve had experience relocating several personnel across far-flung borders. Most recently, Martin James, Head of Expat Distribution, Asia Pacific, who moved to Hong Kong from Jersey in the Channel Islands. 

"This is my fifth relocation, so I have an understanding of what it's like to settle into a new country in today's world," James said.

Read more: The changing role of talent mobility in the 'new normal'

Speaking to James, HRD found out that while experiences during a move may vary, expectations are typically similar: security, be it personal, financial, or for loved ones, and support for overall well-being.

We had a chat with him to find out about his experiences, including how he manages his team who are expats themselves and the needs he has seen coming from international customers.

HRD: With so much change around travel this year, what are some key factors to consider for individuals relocating in these times?

MJ: In such a fast-paced, ever-changing landscape, there are a lot of considerations for people moving to a new country at the moment.

A prominent example of this is expats with dependents [back home] — children, but particularly vulnerable parents. Travel restrictions have brought about a lot of new concerns and logistical challenges. They need to know that they are able to support their family at home as well as in their host location.

Because of this, flexibility in their working lives is more important than ever and the same can be said for their finances – expats need an easy, quick and reliable way to transfer money back home.

Read more: How to stay safe in hotels and while flying for business travel

HRD: What are some challenges that employers should look out for when employees relocate? How can they be overcome?

MJ: The main consideration for me with my own team has always been getting the individual settled outside of work. This is incredibly important if the employee is moving with a family, as it is often hard for them to adjust to the new role, if they have concerns for their family.

Our team understands that there is so much to consider when relocating. For our customers, considerations are bigger than just banking. That's why we developed country guides to help expats understand more about the country they are moving to, as well as other practical tools, for example opening a local bank account ahead of their arrival.

We work to find solutions that make their lives, and their families’ lives easier, something that is welcome to anyone living away from home.

HRD: How about in terms of financial security? How have expectations changed for those relocating?

MJ: As we have all had to adapt to this new way of life, with widespread financial instability, our employees and customers are looking for ways to make their cash work harder.

At HSBC Expat we have seen an increase in customers asking for guidance and personalised wealth strategies, something we have been supporting with during this challenging time.

Read more: Why is financial wellness so important?

HRD: From your experience, how has the pandemic impacted employees’ expectations of global relocations?

MJ: There are probably two main aspects that I have observed over the past year.

Firstly, my current team consists of expats from different countries, and in some cases they have not been able to travel back home to see their family as the borders are shut.

Of those who can travel home, they may face a two-week quarantine.

My team have had a work-from-home arrangement, even though they have a customer-facing role, so I have had to be more flexible and understand that there is often more than one person at home, and a working day might need to be broken up [to accommodate their] partners or children.

The second aspect is around the motivation to relocate in the first place. A lot of expats choose to come to Hong Kong because it is a great place to help progress your career, as well as being a vibrant city to live in and explore.

In fact, in last year’s Expat Explorer survey* it ranked first overall (59%) for career progression opportunities.

Many people have delayed taking time off in the hopes that the restrictions would ease, but the challenges of having to deal with lockdown has impacted the mental well-being of staff.

It is more important than ever that we encourage people to be open about how they are coping and give them the opportunity to talk and get support where it’s needed.

Given the uncertainty around how long the current measures will be in place, we have been encouraging staff to book time off to recharge.  

We have also been doing the same for our customers and letting them know that we are still here for them. I am incredibly proud that throughout this period HSBC Expat have been proactively calling ‘more vulnerable’ customers to check that they are okay.

Read more: What does talent mobility mean to HR?

The future of global talent mobility
It’s clear that despite the temporary restrictions and difficulties around global mobility, the function is here to stay – if anything due to the invaluable knowledge exchange and boundless opportunities created from such programs.

"Globally mobile roles have been increasingly highlighted recently, and many employers are redesigning job roles to build a more agile and adaptable workforce going forward," James said.

"Global mobility is currently at the centre of so many conversations today, and as a global bank we see the benefits of it every day."

Talk to the HSBC Expat team today and discover how they can support individuals at every stage of their career. Click here for more information.

Contact the team at:
[email protected]
+852 28223225

*Source from HSBC Expat’s 2019 Expat Explorer survey which can be found here.

Any opinions expressed are given in good faith but no liability is accepted for any direct or consequential loss arising from the use of this information.

Issued by HSBC Expat, a division of HSBC Bank plc, Jersey Branch, HSBC House, Esplanade, St Helier, Jersey JE1 1HS. HSBC Bank plc, Jersey Branch, is regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission for Banking, General Insurance Mediation, Investment and Fund Services Businesses. HSBC Bank plc, Hong Kong Branch, is licensed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority as an authorised institution and registered with the Securities and Futures Commission to conduct Type 1 (dealing in securities) and Type 4 (advising on securities) regulated activities under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (central entity number: AFJ824). Deposits made with HSBC Expat are not protected by the rules made under the UK’s Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 for the protection of retail clients, including the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service. Deposits made with our office in Jersey are not protected deposits under the Hong Kong Deposit Protection Scheme and are not protected by such scheme. However, HSBC Expat is a participant in the Jersey Bank Depositors Compensation Scheme. The Scheme offers protection for eligible deposits of up to £50,000. The maximum total amount of compensation is capped at £100,000,000 in any 5 year period. Full details of the Scheme and banking groups covered are available on the States of Jersey website www.gov.je/dcs, or on request. HSBC Bank plc, Hong Kong Branch address is at Level 5, HSBC Main Building, 1 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. HSBC Bank plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (UK FCA reference number: 114216).HSBC Bank plc, incorporated and registered in England and Wales number 14259, with limited liability. UK registered office: 8 Canada Square, London, E14 5HQ. Please note that this service is provided from Jersey and is not subject to UK financial services rules and regulations. Further information about the regulatory regime applicable to this service is available on request. 201110/MA/449

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