Is Work-Life Balance For Global Mobility HR Possible?

Young upset businesswoman sitting on chair with briefcase: Is work life balance possible for global mobility HRDo you have five extra work days to take care of your new talent this month? Apart from being new to your office, expatriates are also new to Sweden and they need a lot of support to succeed. While the expression “it takes a village” often rings true, the stark reality is that you and your Human Resources team (if you have one) are the village — and you are very busy.


You have red eyes, shaking hands, and are trying to work and cook for your children at the same time. Does this sound familiar? This is the reality for many HR professionals working in the global mobility field who are receiving transferees from other countries to Sweden.

Overload common

Just like financial specialists boast that “interest rates never sleep,” neither do expats moving to Stockholm from different corners in the world. While many managers thrive on having a full inbox first thing in the morning, there is little down time for HR professionals to catch up when they are busy:

  • sourcing talent
  • recruiting
  • reviewing compensation and benefits packages
  • getting the talents to sign the employments contracts
  • thinking of immigration requirements
  • staying abreast of the minutiae of legalities, insurances and labor law
  • handling practical matters with relocation, and not least
  • the onboarding process

And just when you think it’s all done…

Then it’s on to providing the loving care for the talent so they can perform at work. Ambitious HR, with a high resolve to make their location a top destination for intra-company transfers, will more than have their plates full.

Considering the role of HR

Overload isn’t the reality for everyone. Does your company’s Global Mobility Policy take the HR role into consideration?

  • What time commitment is feasible for HR to spend per transferee?
  • What can and should be done in-house?
  • What can and should be done by the transferee?
  • What can and should be outsourced to experts? 

A good guideline takes into account the reality that most HR don’t have welcoming transferees as their main task. Often it isn’t even part of the job description but the skills to do so are required for the job. The need to source talent from other countries often comes suddenly and it is URGENT. It can’t wait, the company needs this skill now or we are all in major trouble.

Many companies will have a policy already in place.  Yet a surprising number of companies handle foreign recruits on a case by case basis, which can be a heavy load on HR (best case scenario there’s a department of resources), and it’s an urgent need that can’t be postponed or ignored.

Midnight emails from HR are not unusual when they have expats arriving so we know it takes extraordinary support for success. Given the cost of acquisition of foreign talent as opposed to local, it’s of course even more important that each recruit is successful.

Average workload impacts

On average, the practical matters of settling a single person in Sweden takes 25-40 hours of administration starting at arrival, including some hand holding and assistance. A family can easily take twice as much. For someone not doing it daily, you can expect a lot more effort to go in even with the resources available today. That means depending on your other responsibilities and the number of transferees coming in over the course of a year, realistic time needs to be allotted to hit your goals with the recruits.

Aiming for a win-win

Policies can come in all sizes and shapes. A good global mobility policy is a win-win for the company, recruits and HR, so that everyone can achieve their goals and reach KPIs. For HR to also have a chance to be successful with employer branding and talent performance, some minimum criteria should be in place. 

We assess Global Mobility Policies by considering;

  • Company benefits
  • Expat/employee benefits
  • HR benefits
  • Employer branding benefits
  • Compliance quality
  • Psychosocial support level 

Help others by helping yourself

“Put your own mask on first in case of emergency.” That is what the flight attendants tell passengers during the safety demonstration. It should also be taught to HR on their first day. Human resources is the heart of the organisation, and without a healthy, happy and energetic HR, a healthy organisation isn’t possible. It takes hard and conscious work to be happy, healthy, energetic AND the workload must be reasonable. You are the person in question here and you need to be the prime stakeholder to build your resilience and have realistic benchmarks for what you can (and cannot) accomplish in one day.

We have two things to help HR this week – our Guide to Happiness, and a free subscription to our weekly HR tips, tools & techniques.

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