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International Assignment Policy: Differing Expectations Across the Generations

CompassPOINTS - March 2007

By Diana Matwichuk, Manager Assignment Planning Services

Canadian employers, in a concerted effort to retain staff, are increasingly appealing to the generational differences in their employee population. International assignments are a breeding ground for differences in expectations due to the inherent varied generational mix.

Younger staff are often more willing to travel and uproot their lives than their more established and family-entrenched colleagues, whereas older workers’ depth of experience is often in demand internationally. The inherent dilemma is the younger, less experienced mobile worker versus the mature family-oriented worker issue.

The challenge for executives and HR managers planning international assignments is to ensure that the expectations of a diverse assignee workforce are met with the delivered assignment policy.

Generational Differences

Many older workers from the Baby Boom generation (1946 – 1964) adopt a play-by-the-rules approach, and need to know what those rules are. Typically prepared to work hard and long hours for the monetary and chattel rewards which motivate them, they expect recognition of this devotion through documented policy.

Technologically-savvy younger workers from Gen X (1965 – 1983) and, upcoming, Gen-Y (1984 – 2002), need assurance that their work-life balance will not be toppled by the assignment … and they expect to find these assurances at the touch of a button. On assignment, they are often placed in roles which rely on their skills rather than seniority, and this appeals to their work ethic and contributes to their enthusiasm for assignments. However, younger workers take comfort in assignment policy which reassures them in the midst of conflicting “put-your-time-in-the-trenches” work ethics of their Boomer counterparts.

Assignment Policy and Documentation

Paramount for all generations of workers is that assignment policy exist and be documented. Policy should be specific and comprehensive, and take into account the varied needs of the assignee population.

Boomers often expect provisions for their children’s education, elder care and retirement planning. Younger workers expect provisions for enhancement of their free time, and the delivery of the documentation is important to them. Paper documentation of assignment policy is increasingly being viewed by this assignee subset as archaic.

Online Assignment Documentation

At CompassGUIDES, we assist clients with the delivery of comprehensive assignment documentation in online format, whether directly on the company’s website or through a secure portal on our CompassGUIDES website, with the look-and-feel of the company’s website. Assignees should ideally be able to login to the company’s Online Assignment Guide and immediately be presented with the appropriate assignment policy to match his/her assignment type, whether rotator or long term assignment etc.

Aside from generational differences and younger workers’ penchant for point-and-click answers to their assignment questions, online documentation has the distinct advantage of ease of maintenance. As businesses change, so too should assignment policy, and delivery of these changes can be a logistical nightmare in traditional paper format. We regularly see evidence of companies’ difficulty in keeping up with the delivery of assignment policy when assignees visit our offices for individual tax counseling prior to their departure on assignment.

In Summary

Our mission at CompassGUIDES is to help companies roll out assignments which are positive experiences for their assigned workers. Assignment documentation is often key to achieving this, and the younger generation of workers’ expectation for online format is driving a delivery vehicle which has the added benefit of efficiency and reducing the overall number of assignee questions.

For more information on our CompassGUIDES online assignment guides and a sample home page for a fictitious company on our secure website gateway, visit our website at www.compassguides.ca.

You can contact us at CompassGUIDES with assignment planning concerns at 403-531-2200 .

 


Tel: (403) 531-2200 
Fax: (403) 263-1826


Web: www.compasstax.ca
Suite 600, 1333 8th Street SW
Calgary, Alberta Canada  T2R 1M6


Tel: (403) 531-2200 
Fax: (403) 263-1826


Web: www.compassguides.ca
Suite 600, 1333 8th Street SW
Calgary, Alberta Canada  T2R 1M6