Why Destination Services Can Be Necessary for Your Relocating Employees

While corporate relocations can—and should—be exciting, like any major lifestyle change, they can also be challenging and stressful. For this reason, some relocation programs include destination services, a benefit that helps employees and their families adapt more easily to new environments.  

Some of these challenges are logistical, like navigating the immigration process. Others are emotional—i.e., feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Either way, destination services help employees and their families navigate these hurdles, so they acclimate more quickly and fully to their new surroundings.

To be clear, not all relocations require destination services. Many relocation programs already provide employees with the support and information they need to plan their move and get to know their new area.

However, in some situations, acclimating is harder—and an employee’s failure to do so can become a costly, painful problem. In such situations, destination services can help reduce this risk of failure, which benefits everyone.

When Are Destination Services Called For?

Destination services are most often used to help smooth international relocations. Moving to a different country means becoming immersed in a new culture, possibly needing to learn a new language and mastering unfamiliar social rules and expectations.

While this is often exhilarating, it can also be overwhelming. In fact, Mercer, a global consulting leader, has identified anexpatriate adjustment cycle–a predictable emotional and psychological journey expats experience. It consists of four phases, which include:

  • Preparation – planning for the relocation before it occurs
  • Honeymoon – those first weeks following the move when everything is new and exciting
  • Culture Shock – the period when reality sets in, marked by homesickness and a longing for the familiar
  • Adaptation – which happens once expats become comfortable and productive in their new environment

Destination services can be invaluable during global moves, by helping employees prepare in advance for what’s ahead, minimizing culture shock and speeding acclimation.

In addition, destination services are sometimes employed in important domestic relocations, such as white-glove executive moves.

What Destination Services Provide 

Destination Services has numerous facets, which commonly include:

Cultural and Language Training

One of the best ways to accelerate the assimilation process is to immerse employees and their families in their new culture before they arrive. Cross-cultural training prepares them for what to expect, making the unfamiliar more accessible.

In addition, language training is generally made available to the entire family, facilitating better communication with new neighbors and coworkers—an assimilation must.

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Immigration Assistance

Visa and immigration regulations vary from country to country but share one common feature: they’re complex and hard to navigate. Destinations services specialists guide employees through the process, explaining what’s required, assisting with paperwork and generally acting as an intermediary.

Local Orientation

There is nothing like a local, on-the-ground guide to help employees and families become familiar with their new city and country.

Orientations usually include guided tours of the area, an overview of various neighborhoods and an introduction to all things new arrivals need to know: school options, transportation, shopping amenities—i.e., how things work. Services are personalized to each employee and family’s needs.

Spousal/Partner Assistance

One common reason that global relocations fail is that an employee’s spouse or partner fails to acclimate. Spousal/partner assistance helps prevent this from happening, by helping spouses and partners find employment, network in their new location or otherwise make connections.

Settling-In Services

There’s so much logistical work that accompanies a move: registering kids at their new school, setting up the utilities, opening a new bank account. That’s hard enough when moving locally, let alone globally. Destination services specialists show newcomers the ropes, so families can settle in faster.

Clearly, the objective of all relocation benefits is to help facilitate a smooth, stress-free move for employees and their families. Destination services takes that intent several steps further, helping to ensure the success of global and high-stakes relocations. While not required for every move, it’s a useful tool in an employer’s recruitment toolbox—and a hallmark of many competitive relocation programs.  

Human Resources Today