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Reflective Essay – International Assignments

In: Business and Management

Submitted By stp87
Words 1008
Pages 5
As introduction it needs to be said, it is already hard for family and family life, if someone has a stressful job as for example as a company leader, where the workload is larger than in a 40-hour job, but the situation can get even worse when an international assignment plays a role in the work life. No matter what type of assignment comes into play, there are several advantages and disadvantages, especially for the family of the person that has to go abroad for work, what should be discussed in this essay.
When we first go into deep about expatriation, the major question to be asked is whether the family is also moving abroad or not, depending on the planned length of the assignment. In both cases several issues have to be faced. If the family is also moving, a hard task is to organize everything at home and at the host country, regarding housing, work permits, visa, school for kids, and so forth. When the company of the assignee supports the family as a whole, it can be a lot easier to get over some critical issues as for example housing or school for the kid. The situation for the family members can be helped, when an organization specialized on helping international assignees is considered. The very best advantage of this case is the family can stay together and is not separated for some years. When the wife and kids would stay at home, from my sight of view the relationship could be extremely negative affected. Let us just imagine the international assignment is for about five years and it is far away from the home country, where the possibility for visits is extremely restricted. I would say, the relationship would hardly survive that period of time. The advantage in this case for the assignee would be the re-entry to the home country. As we know things change within years and to have someone at home, especially family, someone can stay in contact with, who then gives real support when coming back home, if the company does not have any special programs for the re-entry anyway. In case, the whole family is going abroad the already mentioned tasks have to be overcome, to find a school for the kids, to find a proper place for living, and so on, also re-entry is a hard task then. An additional question asked is about the wife being bored, when the husband is at work and the kid at school, because she probably will be disappointed, not knowing anyone and maybe not being able to work because of the missing work permit. Very important to think of is the language barrier. By not speaking the language of the host country it is a lot harder to find a suitable school for the kids, a job for the wife or even new friends. Sitting at home the whole day with nothing to do can be a very devastating situation. Both, wife and kids have to leave back friends and other family members and get new ones, for just a couple of years and when coming back, it is not secure, the old friends are still there because everyone moves on when time passes. Nevertheless, such a period of time being abroad can be a huge advantage for kids, already having international experience for the future life, especially studies and work. Possibly being able to speak two languages from a low age on is a great opportunity. Nevertheless all these issues depend on the host country and how similar or different it is to the home country plus the willingness of someone to adapt and create an understanding of the differences and to explore a global mindset.
There is not only the case of expatriation, but also of an international transferee, what is even worse for the family, because the worker has to travel a lot in addition to going abroad anyway.
In the first place, the option of being a frequent flyer seems to be the best one for family members, because someone is not abroad for a long period of time, but just for shorter ones and therefore more often and so always coming home is possibly less harmful for a relationship. As we know from traveling for vacation, always after such trips, a couple of days are useless, because of jetlag and such issues. When we imagine, someone has to travel a lot to different time zones, this must be even worse because of the frequency, also depending on if it is always the same country or if its different ones. The time being wasted sitting in a plane should also be considered. Other negative afflicted issues like health, for instance a burn out because of stress and workload need to be taken into account.
Something in between those two options is the case of being sent abroad for short periods of time, like for instance a month. In this case, the concerns about repatriation can be lowered a lot. Still, for the family members it has some disadvantages, as not seeing someone for month and when going to a country at the opposite part of the world, to stay in daily contact is even harder. For the assignee the disadvantage is not to have the family in the same place but thousands of miles away.
Considering these facts, all different types of international assignments have some points in common being a requirement in order to overcome the mentioned issues. First of all, someone has to have a supportive, flexible and understanding family. As important as that is an intense and suitable preparation of an assignment abroad, but not just for going abroad, but in my opinion even more important, to be well prepared for the re-entry culture shock and maybe to begin at scratch back home.
As conclusion, international assignments are a great opportunity for everyone, but when not planned and decided well, they can really harm someone’s family life.

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