Watch for Gathering Storms to Protect your Expatriates
We are all concerned when we send an employee
to a location where we know that the work circumstances and living conditions
may not be the safest. However, we
should also be concerned about those expatriates who have been working in
locations that were considered safe when they were first given the foreign
assignment. My message in this post is
that you should have a good view at all times of any gathering storms that may
impact those employees.
I recently was in Budapest for meetings of the
officers of the Human Rights Law Committee of the International Bar
Association. Budapest was a fascinating
place to have these meetings, given its history of troubling human rights
issues and danger for those working in the city. Of course there was World War II and then a long
and difficult period under communism. Then
the opportunities and risk associated with the fallout of the 1989 revolution. Given the number of tourists I saw in
Budapest, it would all appear safe at this time. However, as I was trying to get from one
meeting to another, I was caught in the middle of a large street demonstration
involving several thousand protesters. As I made my way through this large protest, I thought about how, even
in seemingly safe locations, things can change.
For companies that assign employees to work
around the world: there must be a clear line of responsibility to a manager who
is looking out for any gathering storm clouds that may impact those employees. Do not assume the employees will recognize the
danger. They may not have all the
information on the conditions in the country even though they live there, or because they live there and do not have
equal access to information. None of us
want to be too late in recognizing that storms are coming and put these
employees in danger. Keep an eye on the
sky for your expatriate employees.
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