global mobility communication

The Importance of Communication in International Assignments

February 19, 2024 |

Companies are expanding their operations globally, and employees are more mobile than ever before. However, these assignments can be challenging and isolating experiences for expats if effective communication is not prioritized. In this article, we will explore why communication plays a crucial role in the success of international assignments and how HR managers can bridge the communication gap to support their expat employees.


The Challenges of International Assignments

International assignments can be both exciting and overwhelming for expats. They are often eager to explore new opportunities and contribute to their companies’ global growth. However, adjusting to a new environment, culture, and work expectations can pose significant challenges. Studies have shown that a fifth of all assignments end earlier than planned, primarily due to culture shock and family issues. This emphasizes the need for effective communication throughout the assignment to address these challenges proactively.

The Communication Gap

One of the key issues in international assignments is the communication gap between HR managers and expats. While HR directors are well-informed about the benefits available to support expats, the assignees themselves are often unaware of the full range of benefits and support services. A survey revealed that expats consistently desired benefits different from those being offered, indicating a lack of communication and understanding.

To bridge this gap, HR managers must ensure that expats have a clear understanding of the benefits available to them. This includes providing information on international health insurance, income protection, accommodation costs, and other relevant benefits. By listening to the needs and preferences of expats, HR managers can tailor their communication and support services accordingly.

Closing the Communication Gap

To improve communication and support for expats, HR managers should focus on the following strategies:

1. Clear Expectations and Pre-Departure Training

Before an expat embarks on their assignment, it is essential to provide them with comprehensive pre-departure training. This training should cover not only the work expectations but also the communication style and cultural norms of the host country. By setting clear expectations and addressing potential misunderstandings upfront, HR managers can help expats feel more prepared and supported.

2. Customized Support and Flexibility

Each expat has unique requirements and expectations when it comes to benefits and support services. HR managers should recognize these individual needs and provide customized support accordingly. This could involve offering a flexible healthcare package that allows expats to choose the benefits that best suit them. Additionally, providing regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help address any concerns or challenges that may arise during the assignment.

3. Inclusive and Productive Workplaces

Creating an inclusive and productive work environment is crucial for the success of international assignments. HR managers should actively seek ways to accommodate and listen to the needs of expats before they embark on their assignments. By fostering a supportive work culture and addressing any gaps, HR managers can enhance the overall employee experience and contribute to the success of international assignments.

4. Leveraging Technology

Technology plays a vital role in facilitating communication between HR managers and expats. Utilizing communication tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and collaboration platforms can help bridge the distance and enable real-time communication. HR managers should explore and leverage technology to ensure seamless communication and support for expats throughout their assignments.


Effective communication is essential for the success of international assignments. HR managers play a crucial role in bridging the communication gap between expats and the benefits and support services available to them. By providing clear expectations, customized support, and leveraging technology, HR managers can create an inclusive and supportive work environment that enhances the overall employee experience. With effective communication, companies can ensure the success of their international assignments and maximize the potential of their expat employees.

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