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10 Reasons an International Assignment Makes You a More Valuable Employee

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When the opportunity for an international assignment surfaces, many opinions are taken into consideration to select the best candidate. The employee must not only be able to excel at their job, but they must also be adaptable enough to learn how to work with another culture. The Human Resources team carefully examines multiple qualities of their employees and once a decision is made, help facilitate the move. Below are 10 outstanding benefits of international assignments for a global workforce.
  1. Working in a new country creates an open mind and generates new perspectives for employees. In turn, employees will bring clarity of thought to the workplace because they have mastered the skill of viewing "the big picture" and anticipating potential outcomes.  
  2. When you move internationally, exposure to a new language is likely. This is a change that intensely affects daily life as you learn to navigate your new community with a growing vocabulary. Even if the move is to another country which speaks the same language, coworkers will undoubtedly have a different accent or use unfamiliar words and phrases must be learned. Experiencing this ambiguity as an adult is an eye-opening event that takes patience and fortitude to work through.  
  3. Imagine you're in a crowded train station in a foreign country. You don't speak the local language, but you need to buy a train ticket. The first thing you'll probably do is, unknowingly, turn your powers of observation all the way up. This is an instinctual response to unfamiliar situations. International assignees will rely on their ability to observe the world around them.  Image of international coworkers problem solving together
  4. Diversity in the workplace can mean many things to different people. One manifestation of this is diversity in thought. International assignees can contribute new cultural insights to the workplace after participating in more diverse approaches to problems.  
  5. Moving abroad can generate a great sense of independence. It takes a degree of bravery and curiosity to truly integrate into a new culture. These are qualities that are valued in the workplace, no matter the department or position. Some may argue the ability to work independently and seek solutions to problems is becoming more and more rare as people feel helpless when an easy solution is not immediately available. Moving abroad propels assignees out of their comfort zone, so they must be properly prepared in order to feel confident. 
  6. An international assignment helps employees become more comfortable with uncertainty. This quality increases productivity in business because coworkers can get started on new tasks, even if not all details are available quite yet. In risk-averse cultures, this is a significant challenge when interacting with risk-comfortable cultures and can often lead to cross-cultural misunderstandings.   
  7. Employees with international experience return with a  more compassionate, empathetic mindset. They know what it is like to be unsure about something yet approach global teammates with respect.  Image of a new city street for international transferees
  8. After an employee has had a successful international assignment, they will be more likely to accept other travel assignments or more challenging tasks because they know they are capable. 
  9. Additionally, international assignees return with a refocused sense of their career and best direction for the company.  
  10. No matter what type of relocation package the international assignee receives, the process is still challenging. Moving abroad proves that the employee is process competent, meaning they can follow through with a detail-heavy, long-term project.  

According to SHRM, one of the best things a human resources team can do to increase the value of their international assignee is to connect the assignee with their new culture as soon as possible. This can be done effectively through intercultural training, where a professional coach helps craft and deliver custom training. Across cultures, the value of having a representative of your company in the local culture is indispensable

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