Handling the Complexity of Expatriate Onboarding

When an employee is transferred from the U.S. workforce to a location in another country, the onboarding process has to be started all over again. The employee/employer relationship will generally be governed by the laws of the host country. One of the most obvious changes for the employee is the alteration in tax status. For example, a worker who is transferred to Canada would need to fill out form TD-1 to replace the W4. For many European countries that don’t have an “at will” employment culture, the expat may need to sign a labor contract with the employer that varies significantly from the employment relationship developed in the U.S. Policies that are legal over here may also be considered too restrictive in other nations.

So, every form an employee has signed in the past must be scrutinized to see if it is still valid or if it must be replaced. For a company that has a strong, automated transactional onboarding process in place in the host country for local employees, the expat may be able to use this as a starting point. However, there may be additional forms required that apply to expatriates that do not apply to locally hired workers in a foreign country. In these situations, HR needs to be able to specify what forms are used for onboarding based on special circumstances.

Universal Onboarding permits HR to present a specific set of data collection panels to an employee for completion. This ensures that only the applicable forms are filled out by each new hire or transitioned employee based on predetermined business rules. It also allows language selection so that the employee can choose to complete forms in English even if that is not the primary language used in the host country.

Another area where expatriates require special assistance is in acculturation onboarding. Here, a platform that links all of the employer’s locations around the globe can be helpful. It permits the expat to begin making connections with coworkers at the host location prior to the transition. The employee can also use the system to remain connected to coworkers back home after the move. An acculturation module developed specifically for American workers learning to fit into a new culture can also be helpful. This can be designed with the assistance of a relocation firm that specializes in helping expatriate employees adjust to their new surroundings. Since the cost of relocating an employee to another country is very high, it makes sense to take extra precautions to make sure they want to stay.

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