Cultural Training: A Win-Win Situation
In today’s globalized world where relocation and international assignments are very common, cultural training takes on a crucial role. Indeed it is not an exaggeration to say that cross-cultural preparation could make or break the expatriation journey. It constitutes a win-win situation for both the expatriate and the sponsor company.
For the sponsor company, facilitating intercultural training for their expat employees and their families is a way of ensuring they adjust better and quicker to their new host country. In addition, this type of training help expats to settle smoothly into their new environment, and have a joyful experience, resulting in them being more productive at work. Companies also benefit by reducing the risk of early repatriation due to adaptation struggles faced by the expat and his/her family. Companies should bear in mind that the cost of early repatriation, or the cost of expat assignments cut short, (unofficially estimated between a few hundred thousand US dollars and one million US dollars), is much higher than financing cross-cultural training for their expat employees and families, which normally cost around 100 US dollars an hour. In that sense, it is a no-brainer for sponsor firms to engage with cross-cultural trainers to professionally guide their expat families in their journey abroad.
In general, global companies and specifically their Human Resources departments focus their support on administrative matters such as moving arrangements, housing, temporary accommodation, flights, schooling, etc., but it is not usual for them to provide training or prepare their expats for the cultural challenges they will face at their new destination.
When it comes to the nomad individual or family, cultural training becomes even important, if not more so. Nevertheless, expats tend to be overwhelmed by the amount of administrative issues they have to take care of when moving from country to country, sometimes neglecting the need of attending cultural training programs. As mentioned before, cross-cultural preparation help expats and their families better adapt to their new location by providing them with the tools and strategies to cope with cultural shock and difficult situations, while also making them more flexible and aware of their new reality. This will also help reduce their uncertainty and frustration, and consequently, enable them to profit from the opportunities of the experience abroad.
It is clear that cultural training should not be seen as a nice-to-have “option”, but as a must-have for the benefit of both the international assignee and the sponsor company.