It is common, for the Global Mobility Advisor, to be asked about languages.

“Which are the most spoken languages in the world?”, “Which languages do I need to know in order to work in Global Mobility?”, “Which language is most spoken in Switzerland?”, “When I get there, will I need to know the local dialect?”, are some examples of questions received.

This type of questioning is part of Global Mobility’s daily routine. A warning, however, is that many of the times the questions related to communication are usually thought of close to the travel date. Some companies, even, only release language courses to their expatriates at the moment they arrive in the new country.

The language impacts reverberate all over the adaptation of the expatriate and his/her family. And paying attention to this can facilitate the whole experience of people who are entering a new culture.

With this in mind, no matter how much knowledge one has in foreign languages, or even specific dialects, the most widely spoken language in the area of Global Mobility is one, and only one: numbers.

“The concept of strategy, in Greek strategía; in Latin strategĭa; in French stratégie (…) in English strategy; in German strategie; in Italian strategia; in Spanish estrategia…” – Cap. Nascimento

This is because the movement of Global Mobility is based on the movement of skilled labor and decision makers. The people who go through this process have a high technical character, being responsible for business decisions within the companies, or even, if they are prevented from coming, the stoppage of factory production.

Thus, the decisions pertinent to an expatriation, besides “Who is the expatriate?” and “Why will this professional be expatriated?”, also go through the question “How much will the expatriation process cost?”. In addition, the decision to become an expatriate must be made by the candidate taking into account several factors, including the values that this professional will receive in this process – in view of the real life change.

It is important to emphasize that all stakeholders involved in the expatriation process must understand the values, precisely to avoid possible surprise situations in the middle of the process. It is also important to remember that all the values involved in the move are part of the strategy of both the company and the candidate. The famous win-win situation must be found, as far as possible.

Spoiler: It’s prolly not a Win-Win situation.

Very few times the expatriation process will be Win-Win for both parties, from the financial point of view.

After all, we are talking about a process that involves high salary costs for the company, cost allocations between countries, labor taxes, labor, and partners. This is an expensive bill for the company to foot, and therefore must be well thought out and, as said, aligned.

In other words, the company, both in the home country* and in the host country** make solid investments so that the expatriate can be safely transferred with his/her family to another country.

It is necessary to pay attention to other adjacent points, such as, depending on the legislation in force and the type of policy to be applied, if the expatriate’s financial relationship will be somehow maintained in his/her Home Country – because the transfer of values between company branches will still occur.

On the other side, the expatriate needs to do the math – literally. If the proposed salary makes sense for him and his family, if the allowances match the expatriation policy, if he understands the payroll calculations well – after all his payroll will change. And the number of payments in the year.

Which may mean that after the expat allowances are paid, the salary doesn’t change much. This can cause some tension depending on how the expatriation proposal was communicated, creating a sense of loss.

It is important to emphasize that the whole expatriation process is win-win, all the experience, all the opportunities, all the fruits harvested, and all the situations that are often not calculated, but, nevertheless, positive, are part of the expatriation, and, as a package, make the company and the expatriate get the best of the process as a whole.

However, when it comes to values, it is important to communicate clearly with stakeholders and expatriates – speaking the same language – because a lot will change between one country and another.

So, just like a language, the values of an expatriation need to be clear and easy to understand for everyone involved in the issue, be it companies, expatriates, or co-expatriates. All stakeholders need to speak the same language.

If not, a translator – usually the Global Mobility advisor – should be involved.

  • Home Country: The country from which the expatriate leaves for expatriation;

** Host Country: The country that receives the expatriate.