As companies and organizations expand into new global markets, creating and measuring the value of international assignments continues to be a major challenge. In the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) webinar “Creating Valuable International Assignments,” Kiki Stannard, a U.K. Chartered Tax Advisor with Fitzgerald & Law, helps companies establish whether sending employees on expatriate assignments and spreading their culture globally makes good business sense.
Whether a company is sending an employee on an assignment for six months or for a longer period of time, the same principles and considerations will need to be applied, said Stannard, whose clients range from small start-ups to large privately owned businesses and international groups. This includes setting up a framework to provide consistency across an organization.
“There are so many factors that are relevant to an assignment,” Stannard said. “The employer and the payroll team need to develop an approach, particularly when you’re looking at a first assignment, which will be useful for future assignments.”
Before a company begins laying out its framework, Stannard said, a first step should be to seek professional advice from a firm to ensure compliance, reduce risk, and ensure the assignment structure is relevant to the company’s needs.
“There’s no need to start from scratch,” Stannard said. “You can avoid some roadblocks and potholes if you just ask the right people the right questions. You’re going to get some really good, valuable, and practical advice.”
Once a structure is in place, the question becomes: Whom should we send on the assignment? Companies will need to analyze the skills required for the assignment and search for the best employee to represent the organization for a specific mission. For example, if an assignment is on global expansion and taking sales into a new territory, a top-tier salesperson is probably needed to make the mission a successful one. “
It’s all well and good to say you’re going to send John Doe to Brazil, but is he really the right person for the job?” Stannard asks. “Is your employee confident in being placed in a new environment? Can they adapt to the change in a new culture where your brand and company are less well known?”
Once in a new area, the assignee should feel supported 100% by the company. From cultural training to language support to allowing for regular trips home, an employee on an expatriate assignment should be placed on a path to flourish in their new roles.
“You need to have that support team in the background for them,” Stannard said. “It can be quite a shock to find your marketing team, who used to sit next to you, can’t help you deliver a proposal on time because there is an eight-hour time difference.”
After an assignment is over, a company should consider what that employee’s role will be upon his or her return to their home country.
“If they’ve learned several new skills while on assignment, it would be a real waste to let them remain dormant when the assignee returns to the home location,” Stannard said. “Planning for an assignee to come home really has to start before the assignee has gone on even their first assignment.” Register for the full webinar, now available on demand, to learn more about international assignments, including information on work permits and visas, relocation expenses, and payroll obligations.