How can I help my relocating employees deal with culture shock?

How can I help my relocating employees deal with culture shock?

Culture shock is often an unavoidable part of international relocations. Senior Global Mobility Counsellor Sam Jacobs talks about how to help your employees cope with this challenge.


Complete transcript: “Hello, I am Sam Jacobs from Plus’s London office, and welcome to Relo Tip Tuesday. My question is, ‘How can I help relocating employees deal with culture shock?’

Most people who live in a foreign country for some time go through an adjustment period called ‘culture shock. Once culture shock is understood, its effects can be minimized dramatically. Let’s look at the five phases relocating employees typically go through whilst adjusting to a new country.

First, the honeymoon phase. This is typically happening the first couple of months after arrival. Everything is exciting and new. Relocating employees should use this boost of excitement to look for new favorite places and things to do, which will help them when they feel a little bit stressed or overwhelmed in this new country down the road.

The second phase is called the challenge phase. Relocating employees are now experiencing homesickness. Simple day-to-day tasks such as going to work, taking public transport or even paying bills become a real challenge at this point.

Then comes the adjustment phase. This is generally around six to 12 months after their arrival. Relocating employees become accustomed to the new surroundings and day-to-day activities become an actual routine.

The fourth stage is the acceptance or the adaptation phase. This is when relocating employees have become very comfortable with their new surroundings.

The final phase applies to employees on assignment who will return home at some point, and it’s called reverse culture shock. Relocating employees often become less and less familiar with the cultures, norms and values of their home country the longer they’re away. Although it might seem backward, they can expect their return home to be challenging and confusing.

So how can a relocating employee minimize the effect of culture shock? The most important thing is that they should not isolate themselves. They should join a local club or find online groups of other expats to connect with. It’s critical that they get out of their bubble, find others to talk with and embrace the challenge.

Now you should have a better understanding of what culture shock is and how to deal with it. Thank you for watching!”

read more