Tuesday, 30 October 2012

What is HR's Role in a Natural Disaster?

People feel very cut off in a natural disaster, not just physically, but emotionally too. Good communication between HR and the employees in the emergency area is important. People are getting news from several sources about the emergency, but it won't be about your company. When designing your communications, tailor them to talk about the business.

Storm clouds clearing over NYC
Let employees know that you are there for them and ask them to keep in touch with HR or their line managers. Once you have established their safety, start to communicate with employees about what you can do to support them. Does your company have insurance or support services that they need? Can you provide them with contact information for the government services that they need? Some may need extra time to deal with problems and you should make sure that they can resolve those issues so that you can get them back up and running as quickly as possible.

It is tough for employees to meet their commitments and helping them to manage their commitments is an excellent way to achieve a supportive business culture.

How Do I Communicate Effectively?

Start to communicate with your employees about how they can help to get the business back up and running once the emergency conditions are over. 

Communicate effectively by keeping your statements short. Let them know what your progress is and that you are concerned for them and the business. Employees will take great comfort in knowing the business is there for them to get back to and that senior managers are making that a priority.

Try to create a schedule so that employees know when you will next communicate with them. Ask your employees for their input, they probably know what is (and isn't) a priority in their role. Don't make people keep checking in, but keep them involved. 

If you're advising your CEO on communication tone and style ask them to keep it short and provide leadership. Ask them to try not to tell personal anecdotes during these communications as empathy may come across as self-indulgent or combative.

What is HR's Specific Role?

Within the HR function, you need to coordinate between local HR people and your corporate HR structure to make sure that you can provide services to the local team in the country where the emergency has happened.

You need to create separate communication plans for the employees who were part of the emergency and the employees who work with people who are in the emergency area.

Use your existing plans to coordinate your staff and provide as much support as possible to your employees. Once the emergency is over, you need to review your performance and document the skills you have learned. If there are people that need to be acknowledged for their commitment or for their heroism, take the time to formally do that.

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Monday, 22 October 2012

What's Missing in the Foreign Policy Debate?

How patriotic are expats?
Obama and Romney are in Boca Raton in Florida tonight for the foreign policy debate in the US presidential election. They will cover many issues about their attitudes towards other countries, but there are two questions that I would like to see asked that I think won't make it in to the debate.
  • How will you promote sustainable, stable global trade?
  • When will you create an expat policy to promote the rights of your citizens living abroad?
Why Are These Questions Important?

Countries that open their borders benefit from trade. In this debate there will be strong positions taken to show leadership, but trade shouldn't be a consequences of a change in leadership, or driven by a political agenda. We need sustainable global growth that open borders. (China bashing is not a policy.)

Changes in the way we live because of accessibility of travel and the Internet means that citizens are choosing to live, work, or retire abroad. There is no legislation that helps citizens have global lives. In the future there will be more global movement of people and it is important to start creating the legislative framework that will protect the rights of citizens abroad now, before it is needed.

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Friday, 19 October 2012

Expats Buck The Global Trend

TD Global Investor Confidence Survey found that expats were still confident in their choice of company to invest in, even though emerging- market growth is slowing and the global economy is cooling.
Alternative investments?

They are confident that the companies in their portfolio will generate an income for them and help them build wealth.

What's Different About Expat Investors?
  • Expats have a unique perspective, they see how markets are changing where they live and where they visit. Lagging indicators (like GDP) don't reflect grass-roots growth. 
  • Expats are more risk tolerant than people who only see their local economy. They can compare and see changes in the cost of products from country to country.
  • Expats can see gaps in the market. Sometimes it is just a product they can get at home that they can't get abroad.
  • If your partner works for a local firm, or starts a business, you get a broader perspective on the economy, which can give you a different take on what's happening in the world.
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Monday, 15 October 2012

#globalhub: How Has the International Experience Inspired You?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Currently Without Country!

Nationalism is now a meme, I've been following the debate about Scottish independence (#indyref) on Twitter because I live abroad.

It may have seemed unimportant!
When I started to follow the independence movement, I felt this was about the Scottish people. A race of people who need a homeland. But, as I'm not getting to vote on my nationality, I have started to ask what will happen to me and the Scots who live and work abroad like I do.

Is it a Mandate from the Scottish People?

It seems undemocratic to me that I'm unable to vote while I'm abroad. How has this happened and why is it OK?

The right to vote is based on verification of residency. If you are registered to vote in a the local elections (because you live in Scotland), you can vote in the referendum, regardless of birthplace.

What Happens Next?

If the local people vote "yes," Scotland will be created. The people who are entitled to be Scottish will then be defined by citizenship laws, which need to be written.

I say I'm Scottish because I was born there, but this referendum has made me question that. Ironically, I won't be excluded from other British referendums while I am abroad. I would be given an opportunity to vote in 3 different ways.

It seems that my nationality will be defined for me without my consent and my right to live and work in my country of birth won't be clear until these decisions are made by others.

I don't know whether I will be able to be Scottish, or if the residency rules will be applied because they are easy to administer and I won't be Scottish.

People already believe I'm a foreigner, because I talk funny, but this will affect my life as much, if not more, than the people who live there.

How Does This Affect People on International Assignments?

The visa system governs your right to live and work in a country and it is based on the immigration laws of the country (amended by treaties signed with other countries and international bodies). Does Scotland have immigration law on which to base treaties?

Currently the citizens of EU members have the right to freely move within the EU. Non-EU or non-EEC members require visas. Britain has limited integration with the EU and Scotland's membership is still not clear. Will the English and other ethnic groups resident in Scotland now require a visa? What will happen to the American and Chinese oil workers now working on intra-company transfers valid for the UK? What happens to Scottish-owned companies abroad who operate their foreign subsidiary under UK treaties?

Will Scotland adopt the UK points system for immigration; a system that has inbuilt bias against developing countries? Will Scotland apply for dual nationality for its citizens with other countries? Without consulates or established diplomatic relationships it will be difficult for it to lobby other governments for its citizens and for Scottish companies trading in foreign countries. 

If you are working abroad and you have a baby, the rules for conferring citizenship on your child aren't yet written and in the past have been associated with men only. If you are a Scottish women on an international marriage your children may not get the right to be Scottish and if you choose not to become British, they may not get UK citizenship either. 

What Type of Nationalism?

If Scotland won't recognise the diaspora in an referendum on nationality, how concerned should I be that I can end up without a country? How hurt should I feel about this rejection? Many people leave their homelands because of hostile political systems and want to retain connections or return. In Scotland, I felt the call for independence was based in nationalism, but because I'm not included, I wonder what it is all about? Is this a land grab?

What are the Benefits of Recognising the Diaspora?

I like the American way of recognising heritage. I know that the Brits find this annoying and feel that it is a false sentiment. It is dangerous to think and act like this and it will cause long-term international problems.

Emigrants and global workers remain connected to their homelands in many ways. China has a huge emigrant population that sends money home. Scotland will need foreign direct investment as a country and the most likely people to do this are the diaspora.

Scotland has an opportunity to define itself as an open, inclusive nation and learn from the mistakes of other nations. It's a time for statesmanship and new approaches to recognizing the diaspora. If you don't take this opportunity now it could take another 300 years to get another chance.

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