The term “trailing spouse” used to be a popular one. In the past, the trailing spouse was usually a female who was taking care of a family with children while your new hire was responsible for taking care of their financial needs. These days, the term trailing spouse is used much less and the stereotype is no longer valid. The trailing spouse can be a male or female, they could have their own full-time career, or work part time. There may or may not be children involved. The issue that is very clear is that spouses should be considered a priority when creating your relocation packages..
The ROI of Attending to New Hire Spouses
While it is difficult to quantify the ROI on spending more time and money to support new hire spouses, spousal support is something that can make or break your expat’s success. In Sweden, it is necessary for most families to have dual income earners. This is needed due to the high cost of housing and living in general. In order for your new hire to put their full concentration into their new work projects, it is important to make sure the rest of the family is supported with the tools they need to create their new life in Sweden along with your new employee.
Studies have repeatedly shown that the leading cause of failed talent assignments is the inability of the spouse/partner and other family members to acclimate to their new environment. A survey of expats conducted by MonitorGroup for Global Connection found:
Family or partner-related trouble is the main reason to return home for a third of the cases in which the employee and the family leave prematurely. For the 7% when only the family leaves prematurely, (family returns home, employee does not), the decision to go back often has to do with education, but the report also cites: “The real reason is often the fact that the family has difficulty adjusting.”
How to Help
What can you do to help? Here are five recommendations:
- Provide pre-departure assistance. Cultural training is necessary for the whole family. We have a great complimentary program for adults here.
- Give your transfer’s family the gift of language training beginning prior to departure and continuing after arrival.
- Ask another employee in your company to be a host family for your new employee. This would give them another family to call to get questions answered that might not feel right being discussed with one’s boss.
- Have a list of vetted doctors, mechanics, grocery stores etc. for your new family to have upon their arrival.
- Have your relocation company spend an afternoon with your new hire’s spouse to show them around the city/town and make sure there are no glaring needs that are not being met
When you are thinking about your new employee’s relocation package, we suggest you take a holistic view and consider the happiness and success of the whole family.