Moving abroad for work is a big step for any employee – no matter how confident they feel about it. The idea of being surrounded by new sights, sounds, accents and cultures may seem exciting – but preparing for such a step is crucially important.
Recent events in China – where 20 foreigners were arrested and then deported for watching video clips about Genghis Khan – highlight the importance of being fully aware of what is acceptable in a new country, and what is not.
Those sent home were accused of watching a film that advocated terrorism and religious extremism – though the tourists themselves insist they were doing nothing more than learning about the history of the region.
“It seems this may have all been a misunderstanding – possibly made worse by the fact that junior officials who made the arrests in Inner Mongolia were mistaken because they weren’t fluent in the English language,” says Rob Dolbear, Managing Director of HCR.
“But this episode is an excellent illustration of what can happen if you don’t fully appreciate the sensitivities and laws of the country – or even region – that you’re moving to.
“Relocating involves a whole host of logistical processes – and companies like HCR are specialists in managing these. But we are also experienced in providing guidance to make sure employees settle into their new home. And understanding cultural differences is a crucially important part of that.
“Even the little things count. There are actions you can take in some countries – for example kissing on the cheek when you meet an acquaintance – that might be considered offensive elsewhere.
“Failing to do your homework before a move could prove catastrophic in terms of whether the relocation is successful. In some countries, a slip of the tongue or misunderstood movement could result in being sent back home or even a spell in prison.
“That’s where HCR advisers come into their own. We make it our business to research, understand and then pass on everything there is to know about countries right across the globe. And we do this on behalf of our clients so their employees are fully briefed before they even think about getting on a plane.
“There are many other ways that we support businesses in relocating their employees – including helping them learn a new language and pass their driving test.
“Sometimes, just knowing someone is there to guide and advise them – making sure they settle in and steer clear of hot water – could hold the key to a successful location.”