Today, companies offering international mobility are becoming increasingly aware of the spouse importance in the success of expatriation. Although they better assist the spouse in this step, for example by proposing headhunter services for their reclassification, they tend to overlook his/her key role.
The quantity and quality of the information given to families and the assistance they receive before departure is improving. Yet, it is on site that everything is at stake. Having a job is good for integration but it does not guarantee that the expatriation will be a success. The spouse’s perspectives in the destination country should have an important role in the overall expatriation project, otherwise it could threaten its achievement.
Although expatriates networks can facilitate integration, it remains a difficult step to undergo; many suffer from depressive episodes, loneliness, even if having an occupation that satisfies themselves.
In addition, employees and their spouses too often underestimate the extent of the changes they will face. The project before departure as well as the coaching on arrival must be strong enough to bear the brunt. Thus, the spouse must have his/her share in the communication with the company, almost as much as the expatriate employee.
In order to ensure the success of the expatriation, the spouse must fully be part of the initial project and guidance, but also part of the periodic monitoring by HR services.
Last step, the return to the home country. Most of the returns have not been decided by the employee, which makes this “re expatriation” all the more difficult. Companies should therefore consider the challenges of the return as much as they considered the ones before the departure.