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How Duty Of Care Can Help Support And Retain Talent

by Ricardo Ramos Seyffert on Jun 14, 2024

As the workplace keeps changing, global mobility has seen a big shift, especially after the pandemic. One key aspect, duty of care, has had to change too.

At a recent SHRM conference in New York City, and panel of experts discussed duty of care and how it’s evolved. Here are some highlights:

Duty of Care: Before vs. After the Pandemic

Before the pandemic, duty of care wasn’t a major focus for assignees. They were more concerned about the logistics of moving, like what they needed to bring to the new country. They often skipped cultural training or didn’t use partner support. But when the pandemic hit, employees and their families realized they needed more support.

The pandemic showed the gaps in how companies take care of their employees. It made clear that companies need to provide more comprehensive support to keep employees happy, engaged, and sticking around.

Building Career Paths and Keeping Talent

Companies usually pick employees for assignments based on their technical skills. But they might not think about whether the employee can adapt to the new culture or handle their personal circumstances – like having school-aged kids, elderly relatives, or language barriers. How can companies support the employee and their family who are leaving their support network and make the move appealing as a career step?

By including candidate assessments that look at the family’s needs holistically – like extra support, trips back home, bringing family to the new location, language training, etc. – companies can help families thrive, ensure the employee succeeds, and retain talent.

Intercultural Support for Repatriation

Duty of care programs also help when employees return to their home country after an assignment. Even though they’re going back home, they often experience reverse culture shock. Things may have changed a lot since they left, so they need help readjusting.

Support during repatriation helps employees and their families develop tactics for reintegration, manage reverse culture shock, and set realistic expectations. Employees can also identify global skills gained during their assignment, create strategies to use them in the new work environment, and build action plans for continued development.

Global Travel and Security

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for every assignee or assignment. Security support needs to be customized for the individual and location. Considerations should be made for the employee, their family, and the destination country. Extra education and support might be necessary.

Virtual Assignments

One way to meet the need for a representative in a certain location without uprooting a family is by offering a “virtual assignment.” For example, an employee could work on an expat assignment in China but stay in the U.S. and work Shanghai hours. While this isn’t a long-term solution, it can fill gaps when there’s an immediate need. Support for the employee and their family is crucial to help them adapt to the virtual assignment.


As the world has faced challenges in recent years, it’s crucial for global mobility programs to adapt to the changing workforce’s needs. Supporting employees with robust duty of care can ensure the right candidates move to the right locations, their families are supported, and the company’s goals are achieved.

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