A checklist to give to your expats employees.

India boasts of a rich and diverse culture across its geographical boundaries. India is divided into 29 states and each of these states has its unique cultural background be it food, festivals or the regional dialect. But, moving to India and getting acclimatized to the cultural changes can be overwhelming for some. For organizations, introducing expats to the Indian culture can be a complex process. For one, it’s impossible to give a deep insight into India all at once. However, a brief introduction to India can help your employees get off on the right foot. Here’s a curated checklist of some essentials, expats should know of, before moving to India.

  1. Visa Guidelines

The visa guidelines are the first and foremost thing that one should know about a country they are planning to move to. Before hiring expats you need to nail down the visa formalities and other guidelines like duration, renewal process etc. This is critical -so pay it more attention than anything else!

  1. Weather

Besides the Indian culture, expats often face difficulties in getting accustomed to the high temperatures and the high humidity in the country. You need to inform your incoming expats regarding the average temperatures during summer and winter in the city that the expats will be living in. You can help them in packing right for the region they will be based in.

  1. Driving Rules

Many countries have right-hand side driving. It is important to inform the expats about the left-hand side driving as well as the traffic rules followed in India before they step out on the roads. That, and the barely-organised chaos that rules Indian streets -your expat employees should be prepared to deal with numerous near-misses and scrapes each day they’re on the road.

  1. Currency

It is always good to mention the exchange rate of INR with the expat’s home country at the very start. This will help them in managing their money efficiently while in India. In addition to this, help them in understanding the value of the Indian rupee to safeguard them from local vendors that are always on a look to dupe foreigners with high prices.

  1. Major Festivals & Holidays

India is among the countries with the maximum national and public holidays. Help the expats in understanding the major festivals celebrated across the country along with regional festivals that they should be aware of. Provide them with a list of major holidays and festivals observed in the country and the particular region they are residing in. This will impact their work, the schools their kids go to, and the hired help they keep at home.

  1. Introduction to the City

Introducing India to the expats can be a tedious task initially. In order to avoid confusion and time, start with a guide to the city in which they will be living. Focus on essentials -police, hospitals, essential services, as well as entertainment and shopping options. Tell them about the local “places to go and things to do.” This will help them in understanding their local environment better and to settle in faster.

  1. Basics of Hindi or Regional Language

In order to survive in India, it is useful to learn or know at least a few basic words or phrases in Hindi or the local dialect of their residing area. For example, you can teach them basic Hindi words like “Haan” (Yes) and “Nahi”(No) for starters.

  1. Food

Along with the diverse culture, India boasts of a wide culinary variety. Every region has a different taste, cuisine, and recipes. It will be a good idea to introduce the expats to this wide range of delectable food choices. They can start slow and then get more adventurous with the spice and oil options as they get acclimatised.

  1. Cost of Living

It will be a good idea to help your incoming expat employees prepare a rough monthly budget depending upon their specific requirements. Inform them about things like the average rent they should be paying in their city of residence. This will help them in understanding the cost of living in India and to manage their overall finances better.

Besides these general checkpoints, it is important to update the expats about medical requirements too. Here’s a list of some essential vaccinations that the expats should get done with before moving to India:

  1. Malaria

Some places in India are rife with mosquitoes and expats are at higher risk to get infected with malaria. It is advisable to take a malaria vaccine before travelling to India.

  1. Hepatitis A & B

It is recommended to get Hepatitis A vaccine as expats have a lower immunity to the food and water in India. Consuming contaminated or poor-quality food and water can infect them with Hepatitis A. It is also advisable to take the Hepatitis B vaccine.

 

  1. Typhoid

Foreigners visiting India have been known to contract typhoid due to the consumption of contaminated water or food. To stay safe while savouring the delectable Indian food, it is advisable to take a typhoid vaccine before landing in India.

  1. Rabies

This is the most important vaccine if the expat that you are hiring is an animal lover. Indian cities are home to many stray cats and dogs. If they feel drawn towards these stray animals, it is always good to stay protected with the rabies vaccine.

There’s always more that expats could do to prepare for a move to India. But providing the expats with this checklist will help them ensure a good and memorable trip to India. Welcome to India!

HR’s Worry List For Expat Relocation to India

71% of expats in India report high confidence in the Indian economy -more than anywhere else in South and Central Asia. 63% of expats recommend India for the career advancements. HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey of 2017 has plenty of interesting numbers but if we were to summarize the results in 8 words it would be “More expats love India than ever before.” This is, of course, a very good thing -top international talent coming to India in greater numbers is good for business, good for the economy, and good for the expats too. The only people who are not completely thrilled with the whole deal may well be the HR folks in the organizations that employ these expats. Not that they don’t care for business growth -just that some peculiar challenges arise when it comes to expat relocation.

Hiring and relocating expats is no mean task. There are many things to nail down before, during, and after such a move gets made. So much rides on a successful transition and there is so much more that can go wrong. Some of the major issues faced both by HR folks and the expats, concern family relocation, cultural acceptance, acclimatization to a new work culture, housing, government regulations etc. Lexagent has helped many expats relocate to India and it’s fair to say that, at this point, we have, more or less, heard it all when it comes to areas of concern. Based on that experience, here’s an “HR worry list” with the Top 6 HR concerns for expat relocation and how to address them:

  1. Government regulations

The most important task (and the biggest worry) for any organization is to be completely aware of the laws of the land before carrying out the expat hiring and relocation process. The HR groups responsible for making the move happen should prepare an extensive checklist covering every possible legal process to be fulfilled before hiring the expats. It includes work permits, visas, registration requirements, financial documentation, and other important documentation required for relocating to India. This will ensure that the expat employee faces no regulatory hurdles on landing here.

  1. Fitment into Indian work culture

Every country has a distinct professional and work culture. Even in India, the work culture differs across major centers like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru etc. It is a valid concern if expat employees will be able to fit in or perform in an alien environment. Things that they take for granted in their home environment may be unavailable here and that should not throw them off their stride. It is imperative for the HR groups to introduce the incoming expats to the prevalent work culture early in the move. This helps in faster acclimatization to the work environment and avoiding any work culture shocks.

  1. Home and Family Settlement

The biggest concern of the incoming expat, and hence of the HR group that would be caring for them, is the happiness and well-being of the expat family. This covers a gamut of areas – home, schooling, house help and staff, transport, social life, entertainment, and even community. All these are important areas. Discomfort or poor options in any one of these will distract the expat employee and ultimately frustrate and demotivate them. The HR group will have to take the onus of providing the expat with all the right information they need to make the right choices that will make their Indian life a happy experience. 

  1. Salary and Payment Schedule

Many reports now show that some Indian centers (like Mumbai) may be among the highest paying locations worldwide for expats. Clearly, money is a huge factor -and a huge worry for HR too. An extremely important aspect of consideration for expats while moving overseas is the salary and the terms of the salary. The terms of employment should be clearly stated. The salary should be transparently clear. The inclusions, and most importantly, the exclusions should be listed. The applicable tax laws should be identified, and all agreements should be in writing. This helps prevent any misunderstanding or debate later. 

  1. Cultural Assimilation

Starting a new life in a foreign land has its own challenges. We have written in the past how HR should help the expats settle into their new culture. Without this, the newly arrived expat could become lost, confused, and alienated. This support may include identifying Expat clubs and communities in the city. The case point is Pune Expat Club.These groups let expats socialize with other expat families to build a fulfilling social circle.  This may involve introducing them to the local festivals like Holi and Diwali. This inculcates a sense of belonging and oneness amongst the expats and their families. The sooner the expat feels at home, the better it will be for HR.

  1. Long-term v/s short-term

The tenure of the expat decides what kind of assistance the expats might need. The worries for HR are different in each case. If it is a short-term relocation then the chances are high that the expat might not be willing to get his family along. The focus is more on the expat himself and getting him (or her) up to speed on the job, settled into the new role, and providing them the specific support they need to hit the ground running. The worry here is often how to keep the expat employee motivated and engaged with the temporary assignment. If it is a long-term proposition then the family relocation becomes a major priority.

The expat’s performance depends upon how happy and welcoming they feel in your organization and country. The onus is on the HR group to make the expat employee feel welcome, settled in, and ready to take on the work challenges. As we have seen, that task is not a trivial one -but it’s something that organizations everywhere are taking on more than ever before. And, in many cases, they are doing so with help from Lexagent!

 

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