illustration of a young girl posting a letter. It’s time for child friendly global mobility. Expat Children and their role in successful global mobility. The RES ForumWritten by Karlijn Jacobs, Ombudsperson for International Children, Expat Valley

If it weren’t for my husband’s boss to step in and resolve the issue with our landlord, we would have repatriated over a washing machine that caught fire. It was never about the cost of the washing machine though. We had just found out we were pregnant, and we needed a sense of security and the feeling that we had people to support us if something bad would happen.

Our experience touches on one of the reasons employers benefit from recognizing the impact family life has on assignment success. Your internationally mobile colleague and their spouse are raising their children in an unfamiliar environment, without friends and family to share experiences and worries with. Fortunately for us, my husband’s employer recognized our need for community and secured another extension to our assignment.

Ten years later, my husband still works for that company, which touches on another important effect of extending care to the children of your global workforce: talent management. In a recent Inspiration Session, we spoke to a multinational that recruits a lot of international talent. They involve their Family Support Team early in the Talent Acquisition process, and they reported that it has improved their offer acceptance rate. It also significantly improved their International Talent Retention, as their new colleagues express a greater sense of connection and belonging than before.

This aligns with the motivation of an organization that we recently helped incorporate support for children and parents in their global mobility program. They strived to make their policies ‘family friendly,’ recognizing that their employees would appreciate their support when navigating the impact of their decision to work abroad. Their international assignees and transfers now receive a toolbox for their children, which contains materials designed to build resilience during the different stages of international migration.

When these parents sit their children down to tell them they are moving abroad for work, they can give them a children’s book that explains the organization’s activities, and why it is important that their parent fulfils this role. Not every global mobility team has budget for such solutions, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a difference for the benefit of your international colleagues and the success of your organization’s international relocations. By recognizing the impact of international relocations on children’s lives, and vice versa, you are better placed to provide your colleagues with information that helps them make informed decisions about raising their children abroad. This also makes it easier for them to seek support when their children are struggling to adapt.

While I have heard many reasons and considerations when implementing care for children in mobility programs and offerings - money and time often playing a role – three things were shared by everyone who did it successfully:

  1. they saw how they were able to contribute to the systemic change needed in recognizing children’s needs,
  2. they believed that extending their care was the right thing to do, 
  3. and they saw how doing so would benefit all stakeholders involved. 

From that understanding you can create child friendly policies and select child friendly partners for the benefits provided by your global mobility program.

Harmony Relocation Network is a great example of an organization that recognizes how their members’ DSP and Moving services touch on childrens’ lives. And they understand how successfully supporting children can benefit their clients. Now, Harmony members from all over the world contribute by sharing knowledge and best practice, and in turn they receive the tools and training needed to become the most child friendly version of themselves. That way, they create a moving experience that recognizes children’s needs and supports their wellbeing, every step of the way.


RES Forum research

This piece is from the RES Forum’s research paper – Expat Children and their role in successful global mobility. You can download the paper here.


About Expat Valley

We are Expat Valley. We are the Ombudsperson for International Children. We believe that international children and their families are part of an ecosystem surrounded by various types of organizations. Everyone benefits when these organizations consciously care for them, based on an understanding of how migration impacts these children’s lives.