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Global HR News Conference October 7, 2008 Intercontinental Chicago International Employee Assistance for Expatriates and Families David A. Sharar, PhD.

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Presentation on theme: "Global HR News Conference October 7, 2008 Intercontinental Chicago International Employee Assistance for Expatriates and Families David A. Sharar, PhD."— Presentation transcript:

1 Global HR News Conference October 7, 2008 Intercontinental Chicago International Employee Assistance for Expatriates and Families David A. Sharar, PhD Managing Director Chestnut Global Partners (309) 820-3570

2 Agenda Rational for an “EAP like” model for expats and families. Determinants of expat family adjustment The “intervention” model Measuring effectiveness

3 "Before they relocate, couples tend to focus on the externals like where they will live, what schools their children will attend or where to buy groceries. They understandably ignore the internal challenges, so many of which are key to successfully relocating. They are in denial about the changes which lie ahead for their marriage or family life". --Dixie Wilson, EAP Manager, ConocoPhillips

4 Why focus on the "internals"? There is "risk" in denial (hope for the best but plan for the worst) Make "coaching" or even "clinical counseling" available and acceptable Counteract the perception of company "indifference" when the "blues" or "stress" kicks-in Children "pick up" on parent stress & conflict "Work-Life" balance is felt more acutely in the expat world (where the interdependence of work & family is profound)

5 Hardships that impact expatriate health & wellness Isolation and loneliness (lack of social support) Cross-cultural adjustment and culture shock Unreliable means of communication/transportation Difficult living conditions/harsh environments/pollution Reduced access to medical and professional services Exposure to suffering, violence, insecurity, poverty Risk of infectious disease High expectation of self-sufficiency

6 Unsafe driving (motor vehicle accidents is #1 risk among humanitarian expats) Increased alcohol and cigarette consumption Increased use of prescription sedatives/other substances Unprotected sex Irritable bowel syndrome/digestive disorders Intentional violence/threats of violence Culture shock is a stress-induced reaction. This stress can increase risky behaviors or situations: Maintaining a fitness schedule and sensible diet will enhance the body's reaction to the stress of culture shock.

7 Sources of Expat Failure Source: ERC 1993/1996 international Survey of 162 companies Spouse/family’s inability to adjust to cultural/physical environment  0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  70% Lack of technical competence Inability to adapt to changing business priorities or organizational realignment Inability to integrate job expertise with larger responsibilities of assignment Personality or emotional maturity Lacks skills necessary to conduct business in host country culture Other family related problems Expat's inability to adjust to cultural environment

8 Rates of mental health problems U.S. nationals vs. expatriates

9 GAIN Short Screener (GSS) used with an Expat Population (N=450) A scientifically valid, 20 item (3-5 minute) behavioral health screener for use in general populations to identify who needs a brief intervention or more specialized behavioral health care Identifies over 90% of the people with a behavioral health disorder and rules out over 90% of those who do not. It can further classify the likely type of problem into one or more of four areas: internalizing disorders, externalizing disorders, substance disorders. It can also be used to measure change and document who has had problems in the past but is now in remission. Website:


11 3 determinants of expatriate family adjustment (Alietal, 2003) 1.Personality traits 2.Family characteristics 3.Work-life

12 Personality Traits Cultural Empathy Open-mindedness Social Imitative Flexibility Emotional Stability

13 Family Characteristics Family Cohesion Family Adaptability Family Communication

14 Work-Life Expatriate work satisfaction Support from the international company Other social supports

15 Personality Traits - Cultural Empathy - Open-mindedness - Social Initiative - Flexibility - Emotional Stability Theory of Expatriate and Spousal Adjustment (adaptation of Caligiuri model) Family Characteristics - Family Cohesion - Family Adaptability - Family Communication Work-Life - Expatriate Work Satisfaction - Support from the international company - Other Social Support Networks Intercultural Adjustment - Psychological Adjustment - Sociocultural Adjustment - Work - Family - Culture

16 Are we doing enough? Relocation Policy Vendor Mgt. Exception Mgt. Spousal career support and resume writing – US Domestic only Some destination services Housing Schooling Settling- in Referrals Orientation to local area Cultural training Language Trg Follow up training Personal Support Assessment, counseling, referrals Proactive outreach and support – pre, during and post assignment Relocation Vendor Spouse career consultation Destination services TrainingFamily Support Historically, we have not focused heavily on the “softer,” personal side of an Expat assignment.

17 Why are traditional EAPs inadequate to serve expatriate populations? 1.Most EAPs are U.S. centric and do not fully account for local and cultural needs. 2.Expatriates & families tend not to use traditional EAPs. 3.Many EAPs are passive. 4.Delivering consistent EAP services globally has proven complicated. 5.Traditional EAP alone is not sufficient to meet the complex needs at each stage of an expatriate assignment assignment.

18 4 key elements in Expatriate EAP 1.Proactive Outreach (by phone and e-mail) to all new & existing expats and spouses to lend support and identify any issues 2.Intervention (face-to-face or phone) with "in- country" professional coach or counselor (up to six visits) 3.Educational Support facilitated teleconferences, webinars, and web site 4.Pre-Departure Meeting 4.Pre-Departure Meeting Meet with new expats and spouses prior to departure to prevent or anticipate problems

19 E A P Expatriate Employee Assistance Program (EAP) The EAP is...  Confidential  Proactive and strategic  Free of charge to the expatriate families  Ultimately voluntary

20 Case examples 1.Spouse - isolated and afraid to leave the house in Mexico 2.Child - not fitting in at school in the U.K. 3.Expat employee - extramarital affair in China 4.Expat employee - drinking excessively in Brazil

21 Delivery Model Options for Expatriate Support 1.U.S. based telecounseling and online services 2.Home country professional- periodic expat “check ups” 3.Placement of home country professional in host-country 4.Face-to-face with local provider

22 Global Partnerships Multi-local Approach  Local, in-country providers have an intimate knowledge of the host country  “High touch,” local presence with quick responses  Greater acceptance and integration by local management  Local providers can blend cultural issues with “personal problems” “Think Local Act Local” “Think Global Act Local”

23 Social support is a buffer against extreme stress Ann Copeland's research (Boston University) indicates that expat spouses who interact with host country nationals "seem to be more content and satisfied than spouses with no such contact". Try to avoid living exclusively in the

24 Survey Data “How has your personal life been affected while living abroad?” Percent reporting a “negative” impact. 49% decrease

25 Survey Data Percent who have considered early repatriation

26 Survey Data Percent reporting dissatisfaction with...

27 Survey Data Percent reporting dissatisfaction with...

28 Survey Data Percentage reporting more than 4 days absent “due to a personal or emotional problem.” 39% decrease

29 Program Bantuan Pekerja Malay Program Wspierania Pracowników Polish Werknemer ondersteuningsprogram Afrikaans Programa Internacional de Assistencia Portuguese Programme d ’ Assistance International French psykologisk krisehjælp Danish Programa de Astistencia Internacional Spanish Mitarbeiter-Beratungs-Programm German medewerkers ondersteunings- programma or reïntegratietraject Holland/Dutch 雇员协助节目 orYuan Gong Fu Zhu Ji Hua Chinese 종업원 지원 프로그램 or Jik Won Ji Won Program Korean Questions? Thank you. Programma di Assistenza Internazionale Italian

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