Fiercely independent, tech-savvy, worldly and eager to march to their own ngoma (or drum in Swahili), millennial assignees often present global mobility like you a new set of challenges and opportunities their older compatriots don’t. Providing millennials with the support they need to understand new job expectations and their new country of residence is key to their future success abroad. Here are three ways to prepare your millennial expat to take on a new country (and even have a little fun along the way)!
Set Expectations Carefully
Did you know that 59 percent of American millennial workers are willing to move to a foreign country to work, compared to only 35 percent of Americans as a whole? Millennials as a whole tend to have a more global mindset than the workers who came before them, and have often already studied, traveled or volunteered abroad. While this can lend them an indispensable outlook into their assignment, it can actually cause them problems down the road. They may expect that their work assignment in Italy will allow them a similar lifestyle to when they studied abroad in Paris, only to be shocked when their work environment and schedule are wildly different. These misunderstandings can make culture shock even more difficult to manage.
Ensure you set your assignee’s expectations in a way that allows them to succeed. They may think they have an idea of what it is to live and work “abroad”—but “abroad” is a big place, and their previous experiences don't always translate. Provide your assignees with a “typical” weekly schedule that includes clearly outlined tasks and priorities to help them acclimate to a new way of doing things, and encourage them to reflect on their past experiences to learn how they affect their current situation.
Constant communication will be invaluable for millennial assignees--especially for those relocating alone. Having separate superiors thousands of miles apart can often be difficult to navigate initially and constant communication will ensure that all loose ends are tied.
Establish a clear protocol for regular communication prior to departure to give your assignee a better idea of expectations, as well as how much contact they should have with managers stateside. Set up weekly calls with your employees and make sure they have at least one constant stream of communication going with an employee from home. Who knows? Your office may even get exposed to some nouveaux mots français (or new French words)!
We already mentioned language learning briefly, but for any assignee relocating to a foreign speaking country, this is a must. Many millennials have taken university-level language programs, so they’re not strangers to the art of language learning. But while your millennial assignee’s eight years of Spanish won’t directly help them communicate French-speaking island of Guadeloupe, it will make learning the local language easier. In fact, learning a third language has been proven to be remarkably easier than learning a second language due to the grammar, structure and linguistic lessons picked up. So while there still may be some cultural lessons and region-specific vocabulary they’ll need to work on, but the Latin roots and sentence structure they’ve already come across will make it easier to pick up the language.
Even better news for millennials is that, in most cases, millennials are completely comfortable with cloud-based and mobile learning resources, like our favorite Mango Languages. Through web and mobile apps, you can get your millennial assignees studying and learning in no time.
Millennials represent the future of your company and it’s important to make sure that your assignees succeed while abroad. For more information on helping your employees thrive abroad, take a look at our HR Manager’s Toolkit.