5 Tips to Minimise Stress on International Assignments

“The Assignee Experience”

When it comes to managing a global mobility team, it is vitally important to remember that an assignee’s experience is fundamental to the success of a high-performing Global Mobility programme.  With this in mind, K2 welcomes expatriate blogger Yvonne Dam to take a look at things from the assignee’s perspective.

Over a series of posts, Yvonne explores what it is like to relocate as an assignee, using her experiences to provide tips on how to make an assignment successful and discuss those aspects that really make the difference to ensuring an employee is business ready upon arrival in their new role.

5 Tips to Minimise Stress on International Assignments

As soon as the excitement of landing your all-time ideal international job fades; as an assignee, you’re likely to feel some stress. After all, you have not only said ‘yes’ to a new professional position; you’ve said yes to moving house, moving country and potentially even moving continent.

As this can be a stressful (and exciting) time, here are five tips to help you adjust quickly to your new situation and with as little stress as possible.

  1. Start exploring and stay open minded
    On international assignments, you’re sure to experience a lot of new things. Here, it helps to try and treat everything that happens to you as something exciting and new; start exploring your new surroundings and focus on enjoying the experience. It’s also important to stay open minded; accept that things may go very differently here in your host country. After all, even if things go wrong, you’ll have learned something new - try to remember you will smile about this somewhere in the future!

  2. Get a work mentor
    To quickly adapt to your new role and learn about how things are done in your new situation, it helps to find a local mentor. Ideally, this person should be someone who can explain less obvious cultural differences, show you the best way forward and who can also invite you to the best office parties!

  3. Join a club or community
    Building a new social life is another way to minimise stress. After arriving, try to join a group or club doing your favourite hobbies (such as running, cycling, cooking; whatever makes you tick!). If you can, try to socialise with colleagues or become part of your local or expat community. You could also volunteer to organise events, allowing you to have an active community role and meet a wider range of people. The best way to feel less homesick is to make new friends and acquaintances quickly.

  4. Make your house a home
    Having a place to call your own is crucial if you want to adapt easily into your new surroundings. Try to make your accommodation feel like home as soon as possible, even if you are still in temporary housing. To achieve this, it helps to hire a good relocation company who can ensure that your household belongings arrive on time (and in one piece). Of course, if you need new things in the meantime, go shopping! Relocating is a good excuse for retail therapy!

  5. Remember it takes time to adjust
    Don’t rush yourself or put yourself under unnecessary pressure; adjusting to a relocation takes time. But before you know it, you will be used to your new life. In the meantime, of course, it’s important to stay connected with friends and family in your home country; they are there to support you, share your first impressions and laugh about silly situations with you. If you do feel the stress weighing on you, work to recognise it, practice mindfulness and do what you can to release it – go and get that massage if you need it.

Of course, even with the above tips, it’s natural to feel some stress when on an international assignment. However, the above can help to act as a go-to-guide to help you focus and prevent you from  help you to process things more effectively. Remember you cannot change the scenery if you never leave the shore!

About Yvonne Dam: Yvonne is an expatriate, assignee and the owner of Amaze Yourself, online coaching. She helps people with busy lives to focus on what they really want, thus returning balance and energy to their lives so they can start enjoying themselves. Furthermore, she helps people to find the job they’ve always wanted. Yvonne is Dutch and currently lives in the UK; having lived in 4 different countries and worked all over the world.