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Expatriate Security Training and Safety Program Essay

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Updated: Jun 13th, 2020

Introduction

Problem Statement

Travelling to other countries subjects an employee to such serious risks as the accidents on transport, fires, low-quality medical service, limited access to medication, poor sanitary conditions, epidemics, infectious diseases, criminality, hostage-taking, and terrorism, to name just a few (Harvey, 2013). At that, it has been noted that male and female and married and married employees face different risks (Expat explorer, 2014). Thus, sending an employee to a different country without the necessary training is highly irresponsible and thoughtless of a company management.

To address this difficulty, companies need to develop the security training programs and educate employees regarding any existing risks they may face in the country of their assignment and on their way to this country before they depart. The preliminary overview of the literature on expatriate security and safety has demonstrated the lack of data on the preventive strategies that can be implemented to provide assistance to the female workers and thus further investigations should be done in this field to eliminate the research gap.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this research project is to develop an effective safety program for the traveling businesspeople and provide recommendations as for its implementation. The selected topic is of high importance in connection with the current situation at the global human resources market (Greenhaus, Callanan, & Godshalk, 2010). Due to the lack of talents in multiple areas of the world where global companies operate, employers make a decision to send their human resources to other countries. Since the regular labor force is the most valuable resource, companies are responsible for providing the necessary help with settling and living safely to expatriates in the country of their assignment (Forrier, Sels, & Stynen, 2009).

The program will need to include sufficient training that will help an expatriate avoid a range of possible threats including the accidents on transport, fires, low-quality medical service, limited access to medication, poor sanitary conditions, epidemics, infectious diseases, criminality, hostage-taking, and terrorism, and develop the right behavior that will help overcome any possible hazard. At that, the program will consider the fact that expatriates may have different circumstances depending on their gender, family status, and origin and therefore, it may need to include the measures aiming to address the problems that expatriates’ family members face (Forrier et al., 2009). To promote further improvements in the area of expatriate safety and security, this research project will include information on the investigations that need to be done.

Research Questions

To understand the challenges the expatriates face and offer companies recommendations regarding the help they may provide, this project will consider the following research questions:

  • Q 1. What are the specific difficulties expatriates may face in other countries and on their way to these countries?
  • Q 2. Do male/female and married/unmarried employees face different challenges?
  • Q 3. What are the effective strategies for preventing and managing the risks the expatriates face?
  • Q 4. What are the further investigations that may be done in the chosen field of study to expand the scope of knowledge on expatriates safety and security?

Key Points Addressed

  • P 1. International corporations send their best-trained employees to transfer knowledge, control management, and promote multinational corporate culture overseas (Greenhaus et al., 2010). While being highly talented and educated as for their professional competence, expatriates may appear in a difficult situation because of the lack of other important competences connected with safety and security issues.
  • P 2. The most frequently met hazards are the low-quality medical service, limited access to medication, poor sanitary conditions, epidemics, local infectious diseases, criminality, hostage-taking, terrorism, existing diplomatic tensions, fires, and transportation related accidents (Forrier et al., 2009; Harvey, 2013).
  • P 3. According to Cole and Nesbeth (2014), employees assigned to other territories face the following difficulties that become an obstacle for their professional success – ‘job and work environment factors, family factors, organizational support, and contextual factors in the host-country’ (p. 66). Job and work environment factors refer to the specific resources the company provides to the employees including the accommodation, transportation, and medical insurance coverage (Cole & Nesbeth, 2014). Family factors implicate the characteristics of the expatriate’s family status (Cole & Nesbeth, 2014). Organizational support refers to the informational, psychological, and other support provided for the expatriate with an objective to help him/her cope with the unexpected safety and security risks in the foreign assignment (Cole & Nesbeth, 2014). Contextual factors involve the possible demands as regards to the safety and security matters an expatriate and one’s family might appear to have in a foreign country (Cole & Nesbeth, 2014).
  • P 4. To help a foreign assignee, a company should develop the safety and security strategy that will address each possible risk (Forrier et al., 2009).

Literature Review

The problem of expatriate security and safety relates to a variety of aspects with the wide scope and range (Ast, 2010). It is thus imperative to make sure that the research has concerned all these issues from different perspective and angles, including the point of view of the human resource managers, assignee workers themselves, and their family members. It is also essential to obtain information both from the theoretic and practical field (Cole & Nesbeth, 2014). Thus, the research efforts focused on the objective to perform the practice-oriented observation of the studied subject with the purpose to develop a multidimensional program for expatriate security and safety addressing the issues and threats faced by the identified groups of foreign assignees.

Specific attention was paid to the reports from the field leaders because these pieces contain the up-to-date data showing both the scope of the problem and the variety of methods utilized by the international businesses with the purpose to ensure effective adaptation of their workers in their foreign assignments. Remarkably, comparison of information in the academic articles or the theoretic frame did not demonstrate as broad view on the problem as it is in the reports by the experts in the field.

The reports analyzed the complexity of expatriate security and safety risks on transport, in the land of destination, and in the collective body of local workers (Expat explorer report, 2014; Your Assignment, 2009). The reports demonstrated that the problem of expatriate safety in connection with the need to adapt to the local mentality of fellow-workers has special significance. These guides also indicated the specific measures to be undertaken to eliminate such risks. The data gained from the practical recommendation guides will help generate the more specific and effective plan of better protection for expatriates in foreign countries.

Studying of the theoretic sources including Ast (2010), Cole and Nesbeth (2014), Fee et al. (2013), Forrier et al. (2009), Greenhaus et al. (2010), Harvey (2013), and Jung (2014) helped understand the most frequent hazards met by expatriates in the countries of their destination and on their way to these countries. This information suggested the main issues that will be responded to by the final program proposed in this project and helped organize the arising problems by group in order to ensure the better outcomes through itemization. The data obtained from the sources identified above also helped to detail the recommendations for male and female assignees. Finally, analysis of all the sources studied suggested conclusions on the further investigations that may be done in the chosen field of study to expand the scope of knowledge on expatriates safety and security.

Definition of Terms

The purpose of defining terms is to allow for a shared understanding of the research being presented. It reduces vagueness and increases productive understanding. This project has addressed a row of terms related to the problem of expatriate safety and security.

Expatriate

An employee sent overseas with an objective to promote corporate goals in other divisions of the organization.

Safety and security issues

A variety of possible threats and hazards, both the man-made and natural ones that may affect effective functioning of an expatriate in one’s foreign assignment.

Preventive measures

The activities that can be done by both the human resource managers and expatriated themselves with an objective to mitigate the existing safety and security issues.

Proposed Methodology/Research Strategy

Expatriate research and specifically, expatriate safety and security research requires analysis of the scope of the problems that employees face in their foreign assignments and the measures that corporations worldwide use to address the existing difficulty. With respect to the complexity of the safety and security risks and existence of a wide range of different strategies effectively used by different companies, this investigation will lend itself to the qualitative research design.

For this study, qualitative research will be implemented along with the thematic data analysis. Such choice of methodology can be explained by the fact that the aim of this research is to study the scope of existing knowledge on the studied subject, as well as the experience of multinational corporations, which practice employee transfer to foreign countries. Since the existing literature describing the issues of expatriate safety and security provides large portions of information, the thematic data analysis will be used to evaluate the found data and organize it into a portion of the new knowledge.

Assumptions

To help a foreign assignee, a company has to conduct the study of all possible hazards and develop the strategy that will address each problem step by step. At that, the company should consider personal factors including the employee’s gender and the family status since according to Cole and Nesbeth (2014), assignees from different background might need quite different assistance strategy.

Scope

In view of the fact that relocation to a foreign country is connected to multiple other issues rather than safety and security issues only, the scope of this research will be limited to the investigation of safety and security problems in the foreign assignments along with the solutions that may address the problems identified (Harvey, 2013). Since there are multiple facts demonstrating the essence of developing gender- and family-status-oriented safety and security risk programs for foreign assignees from different backgrounds, this paper offers to narrow this discussion to the differences that expatriates with different circumstances might face and develop specific plans for the male and female expatriate.

Limitations

Despite the fact that this study provides several important insights as for expatriate safety and security in the countries of their assignment, the limitations of this research need to be acknowledged. This qualitative study addressed the literature discussing expatriates’ experience in their countries of assignment. However, the lack of sources researching expatriate issues from other perspectives was noted. It is desirable to collect information from other stakeholders including human resource managers, home managers, and expatriate’s family members.

Next, to expand the scope of understanding of the topic under consideration, it is important to conduct quantitative studies aiming to explore expatriate’s experience from various sectors and settings. These studies will help to enlarge understanding of the expatriate safety and security matters with the help of employee’s experience.

Results

This research has found that expatriate safety and security issues are complex and multidimensional. Since foreign assignees have not been exposed to similar risks in their home countries, they are highly prone to them (Jung, 2014). To manage the identified risks, the company needs to educate employees to make them aware of possible hazards and provide them with recommendations on how to minimize possible dangers (Fee, McGrath-Champ, & Liu, 2013).

Conclusion

Current research has identified the specific threats and hazards that may confront the expatriates in their foreign assignments. It has found that depending on the personal circumstances, whether the person is male or female, married or unmarried, one’s experience can differ and will need corresponding preventive measures. The effective strategies for preventing and managing the risks will aim at addressing each specific risk category in separate, whether it is travel, home, drive or working place issues. To reduce business losses, corporations should carefully consider each risk type and equivalent measures to mitigate the existing danger.

Summary

A variety of possible dangers and threats identified requires the development of a multi-optional prevention plan with the strict gradation of measures for each particular safety and security issue (Greenhaus et al., 2010). Below, specific suggestions concerning every expatriate safety and security hazard identified will be narrated.

Explanation of Findings and Recommendations

Specific Expatriate Safety and Security Issues Identified

The commonly-met hazards include the low-quality medical service, limited access to medication, poor sanitary conditions, epidemics, local infectious diseases, criminality, hostage-taking and kidnapping, terrorism, existing diplomatic tensions, fires, and transportation related accidents (Forrier et al., 2009; Greenhaus et al., 2010; Harvey, 2013). According to Fee et al. (2013), apart from the regular safety and security risks, there are also the following emergencies that require urgent intervention by the company representatives:

  1. “medical emergencies, which may range from individual evacuations (e.g. malaria) to community-wide pandemics”;
  2. “natural disasters, like floods, fires, earthquakes, and tsunamis, which typically affect large numbers of people and infrastructure”;
  3. “irregular man-made crises, including kidnapping, civil or military unrest, or acts of terrorism”; and
  4. “regular man-made crises which are more familiar to HR professionals, like industrial accidents and non-work misadventures” (p. 248).

It is remarkable that according to the statistics, the majority of expatriate safety and security threats have been met by the foreign assignees due to the unwise decisions as for the home security measures implementation (Harvey, 2013). For instance, they opened their home doors to the total strangers appearing to be the criminals or allowed to enter the people naming themselves the representative of the housekeeping service who were the criminals in reality (Harvey, 2013).

Besides the above-mentioned risks, there are also unexpected issues of domestic security and security at the new place of work. In the report Your Assignment Abroad (2009), it was found that foreign assignees may have considerable problems with moving into the households of a type different from the one they used to have in their home country. In the following quotation the main aspects of this problem are shown:

Domestically, you would have the same voltage necessary to use your appliances and it would be compatible with your electronics. Internationally, these items more than likely will not work. In addition, domestic relocations are often a permanent move for an employee’s job and household. International assignments are, for the most part, for a limited time (Your Assignment Abroad, 2009, p. 16).

Another recommendation toward risks prevention given by the experts is learning foreign language that people speak in the country of the destination because these skills will help to eliminate a wide range of potential difficulties:

If you lack foreign language skills, you should arrange for language training. If English is not the predominant language at the assignment location and foreign language skills will be necessary to enhance your performance and effectiveness, language training may be required for you and your family prior to departure (Your Assignment Abroad, 2009, p. 16).

Learning the local language is essential for the cross-cultural adaptation and establishing the quality connections with the fellow workers in the foreign land, as well as neighbors, schoolmates, and other people expatriates or their family members meet (Jung, 2014).

Recommendations towards the Plan of Prevention

Personnel security and physical security are the essential parts of the expatriate safety and security strategy addressed in this project. Current research has identified that these essential parts of the operational plan play the significant role in reducing the business losses for big corporations sending their employees to foreign assignments (Greenhaus et al., 2010). This conclusion is proved by the fact that the human resource is the major asset in any business because employee professionalism and productivity directly affect business performance (Greenhaus et al., 2010).

Traditional criminal justice roles, functions, and concepts play the key role in security provision for the expatriate workers in foreign assignments. Since the major source of danger emanates from criminals who threat to enter the house, assault, kidnap, or attack foreign workers, which are all illegal practices, the expatriate safety and security strategy largely depends on cooperation with the local law enforcement agencies (Harvey, 2013).

Thus, preventive societal institutions are the key element of the safety and security system aiming to protect expatriates in their land of destination. Therefore, the human resource management should establish cooperation with the representatives of police (Fee et al., 2013). Moreover, Ast (2010), recommend to increase HR management operational effectiveness in volatile regions by means of establishing liaisons with the local government agencies and the private sector personnel in the competitors because some of the emergencies might require exclusive prevention measures in cooperation with multiple stakeholders.

Overview of the information from different resources suggested that in case a certain emergency took place in the country of assignment, foreign workers needed to connect the human resources support department and follow the guidance provided (Expat explorer, 2014; Greenhaus et al., 2010; Harvey, 2013). While an employee is overseas, a database tracking system sending alert messages to warn the person regarding the newly emerging risks and the readily-available hotline with the skilled consultants will help one respond to the unanticipated risks (Harvey, 2013).

Cost-effective mitigation strategies will include education and training for the workers who might appear in an emergency situation with a variety of potential hazards (Greenhaus et al., 2010). In case the hazardous situation takes place, the HR managers will need to assess the degree of damage caused, offer psychological and physical help, and provide training towards avoiding similar risks in the future (Greenhaus et al., 2010; Jung, 2014). According to Fee et al. (2013), the international function of HR spreads on the following terrains: “service provider, welfare officer, policy police, strategic partner, and change agent” (p. 248). Thus, const effectiveness of the prevention strategy will directly depend on the HR management performance in each of the above-identified aspects.

As for the difference of women’s expatriate experience in terms of safety and security, the research has found that the female expatriates face more hazards both on the road and in the land of their destination and thus, these workers need the specifically designed training (Muir, Wallace, & McMurray, 2014). Some of the most common risks for the female expatriates are the residential invasion, carjacking, robbery, assault, exertion, and kidnapping. Moreover, female expatriates may have more safety problems when cooperating with their colleagues because of the prejudice from the local male workers (Muir et al., 2014). However, women’s real life experience narrated in the studied articles suggests that if they are properly trained, female expatriates may function more successfully than the male ones due to the natural adaptation mechanism those women posses (Ast, 2010; Muir et al., 2014).

The foreign assignees arriving to the place of destination with the family members need to be aware of the kidnapping threat (Muir et al., 2014). For that reason, all the family members should be educated as for the home security and traveling security measures. Children and women are not allowed to move around the city alone, instead, they need to group together or join other expatriate families on their way to school, shopping areas, sports facilities or anywhere else (Expat explorer, 2014). Expatriate family members are recommended to get acquainted with the families of reliable colleagues, both from foreign countries and from the country of destination. Such net of contacts will help increase the level of resistance to the kidnapping threat and other safety and security threats (Expat explorer, 2014).

The study has found that for all the categories of expats, the recommendations narrated below will implement to avoid most problems in their assignments:

  1. Follow the safety guidelines on the transport both during the trip to the destination and while traveling on transport to and from work;
  2. Do regular screening with doctors;
  3. Follow the guidelines towards the workplace safety;
  4. Avoid unknown areas;
  5. Reject requests for helping to repair the supposed broken care, instead call the helping services;
  6. Reject requests of a supposed lost child to be led to his or her home place, call the police instead;
  7. Be aware of occupied parked cars next to you;
  8. Change times, roads, and routines regularly;
  9. Use major roads to go to work and avoid the bad travelled ways;
  10. Hide valuable things from plain view;
  11. Don’t count money in the public places;
  12. Don’t accept help from strangers;
  13. Get trained to recognized the threats from people following you;
  14. If assaulted, remember your ultimate goal to save your life, stay calm, and give the perpetrator what they ask.

The threat of being assaulted remains quite common and unfortunately, unwise decision-making during such emergencies may cost a person one’s health or even life (Harvey, 2013). Therefore, foreign assignees need regular training on how to cope with the assault and how to handle this threat from the psychological point of view (Greenhaus et al., 2010).

Next, the study has indicated that since the majority of expatriate safety and security threats have been met by the foreign assignees in their homes, the following recommendations should be followed strictly:

  1. Use good housing access controls including security systems, keys, the departmental security service;
  2. Separate you house and car keys;
  3. Study the list of housing services and the firms providing them along with their representatives;
  4. Do not permit the service personnel to enter unless proper documentation provided;
  5. Organize an opportunity to see your visitors at the door from a distance;
  6. Organize inspection of your house safety in terms of locks, electronic monitoring, gates, etc.;
  7. Use good lightening to scare the criminals away;
  8. Use perimeter protection such as window barriers, fences, gates;
  9. Do not open doors to talk to strangers;
  10. Get acquainted with the neighbors.

Further, informational security is another vital component of the expatriate safety and security strategy. Informational security with regards to the expatriate safety and security concerns storage of information regarding foreign assignees, their family members, and any other details that can be used by the criminals to cause harm to them (Jung, 2014). It has been identified recently that there is a growing number of cases of attacks committed by criminals who managed to obtain secret information regarding foreign employees due to omissions in the informational security strategy (Your Assignment Abroad, 2009).

Therefore, effective prevention plan includes the strong defense against the data leakage (Jung, 2014). Incorporating the informational security analysis into the research plan presents another opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the designed expatriate safety and security plan. With regards to the informational security issues, this research has made another insistent finding. In the recent period, criminals have focused on using the social networks to gain information about the objects of their interest (Jung, 2014). Unwittingly, some of the foreign assignees make the information regarding their financial status, way of living, interests, lifestyles, frequently visited places available on the net (Jung, 2014). It is strongly recommended that they limit the availability of their personal information in the social media (Jung, 2014).

Recommendations for Further Investigations

The overview of the literature on expatriate security and safety has demonstrated the lack of data on the preventive strategies that apply to provide assistance to the female workers and thus further investigations should be done in this field to eliminate the existing research gap. On the whole, the theoretic sources and the practical guides composed by the consultants and participants of the process of expats preparation for the foreign assignment simply state that there is an immense difference in women’s and men’s experience in foreign assignments (Ast, 2010; Muir et al., 2014).

A number of sources only mention that planners should mind the differences while others briefly narrate differences and specific difficulties that female workers can experience (Ast, 2010; Expat explorer, 2014; Muir et al., 2014). The identified research gap is thus the lack of information on the exact measures that can implement in practice to help female workers in their foreign assignment. To address the existing research gap, the further qualitative and quantitative research is needed to determine the measures and methods that can implement more effectively to combat safety and security issues in the female expatriates.

References

Ast, S. A. (2010). Managing Security Overseas. Protecting employees and assets in volatile regions. Boca Raton: Auerbach Publications.

Cole, N., & Nesbeth, K. (2014). Why Do International Assignments Fail? International Studies Of Management & Organization,44(3), 66-79.

(2014). Web.

Fee, A., McGrath-Champ, S., & Liu, H. (2013). Human resources and expatriate evacuation: a conceptual model. Journal of Global Mobility, 1(3), 246-263.

Forrier, A., Sels, L., & Stynen, D. (2009). Career mobility at the intersection between agent and structure: A conceptual model. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 82, 739-759.

Greenhaus, J. H., Callanan, G. A., & Godshalk, V. M. (2010). Career management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Harvey, B. (2013). Safety while working abroad. Professional Safety, 58(12), 20-21.

Jung, A. (2014). Critical Analysis of Possible Causes of Expatriate Failure at AFW Direct. Personnel and Organization, 2(3), 147-56.

Muir, M., Wallace, M., & McMurray, D. (2014). Women on the move: the self-initiated expatriate in China. Journal of Global Mobility, 2 (2), 234-254.

Your Assignment Abroad: The 50 Most Common Concerns. (2009). Web.

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