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This article originally appeared in the February 2019 edition of Mobility magazine.
I recently worked with a company in which two-thirds of the moves were abroad, to Singapore or Saudi Arabia. One of the challenges they were facing at the time was moving a small group—defined as 10 for this company—of data scientists from the southwestern U.S. to Singapore. The company could not get a collective move acceptance, and the move was not going to happen unless they all agreed.
During a consult one day, the company’s internal move coordinator recommended to one of the assignees to start a private Facebook group for colleagues who were already in the new location, who have done a similar assignment with the exact parameters, or who were also getting ready to make the move.
The group would be a safe place for questions and answers that might otherwise not get addressed by the company, third-party counselors, or hiring managers. Brilliant!
A couple of things to note: First, this was a very old company and was very much set in its ways—not progressive in the least. Second, up until this move the company had blocked all social media sites on campus during work hours. Trying to convince the powers that be to “unlock” access to social channels was daunting. Much to our surprise and delight, they quickly saw the projected value in leveraging a platform such as Facebook that would bring many returns all around.
Two of the assignees started the group, and within 24 hours it had 30 members. Perspectives from those who had experienced what this group was about were invaluable. Within 15 days, the entire group had accepted the transfer. They raved about how helpful it was to be able to ask real questions about day-to-day life in Singapore for Americans that the company really couldn’t answer. No matter how strong your cultural training is, one can never be completely prepared for such a change in culture, customs, and life. It was a great way for the group to feel connected and supported. Accompanying partners were also encouraged to begin their own group, and well, the rest is history. Morale for this move was at an all-time high—transferees and their families were actually excited about their new adventure!
The advantages to the company are obvious. When a move begins in this fashion, it encourages a motivating work environment, thereby incentivizing employees to continue on a career development track, which will benefit both the employee and the company. Higher retention rates of well-trained, loyal employees who will now be part of the population willing to share their experiences with future assignees embarking on similar moves are the proven results of giving transferees a voice, and a safe place to be heard.
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