Expat Partner and Family Support

Partner /Spouse Support Programs

Partners, or spouses, are critical for the success of an overseas assignment.  Research repeatedly shows that the most common reasons for early return are those relating to partner or family issues.  

That's the negative research.  From an anecdotal prospective, we have repeatedly seen that partners who are managing their experience overseas well are often matched with employees who are performing effectively at work.  Support Programs can alleviate some of the potential for dissatisfaction and empower the partners to make effective adaptations to the new locations.  Effective adaptations for partners are more likely to mean, more focused and satisfied employees who will complete the assignment.

Why should an organization pay for Partner Support? 

Relocation of an employee impacts significantly on the life of the employee’s family.  New cities usually mean new jobs, new homes, new schools and new friends for partner and children.  While many partners recognize and support the possibilities for learning and development to be gained through the new work experience offered to their partner they are often required to make major adjustments to their own lives and the lives of children and this can sometimes lead to a sense of frustration and annoyance. The term trailing partner or trailing spouse is one universally disliked by most expat partners as it conjures up images of partners without a personal sense of personal direction or career goals.  The reality is far from this picture.  Many partners have definite career and family goals and desire to align these goals within the relocation experience.  The challenges faced by the supporting partner in relocation can often be greater than those faced by the employee who may be supported more carefully by the systems, structures and social network within the corporate environment. Research consistently shows that the most common reason for early return from an overseas assignment is partner or family dissatisfaction.

Career Coaching Program

Many partners in new locations find it a major turning point in their lives.  It often provides the opportunity to rethink career directions and goals.  For some this can be assisted with a Career Assessment Program or Career Coaching Program as they review their career interests, personality preferences, career skills and values and plan new directions.  Coaching can then follow up where appropriate to review career search skills and provide on-going encouragement through the job search process. Moving from another country can also bring the challenge of applying for work in an unfamiliar cultural environment.  The process of understanding job advertisements, the application system, and local standards for resumes and letters can be very difficult. Also difficult can be the need to present well in interviews when the change process may be placing high levels of stress and emotional ups and downs.  A Coach can assist with providing familiarity with the local system as well identifying other issues and developing strategies for managing the change well.

Life Coaching Program

Partner coaching programs can also focus on aspects outside careers.  As with all major transitions, identifying change management strategies, setting goals for the adaptation stages and identifying and achieving milestones in the relocation can be a helpful coaching program.  In the absence of friends or family a coach can provide the sounding board or listening post for many of those new experiences, challenges or triumphs, partnering with the relocated spouse or partner to provide support and empower not just the partner but ultimately the whole family to adapt well.

See Also