Every year, Canada helps people from all over the world immigrate to our provinces for economic reasons. Many of the Provincial Nominee Programs target business people and skilled workers who already have job offers within the nation’s borders. While immigrating to Canada can provide wonderful career opportunities for employees, and the chance to explore a new, rich environment full of new languages, new foods, and new people, leaving the comforts and familiarity of a home country can also provide lots of opportunity for frustration, stress, and above all loneliness.
Loneliness and homesickness is the primarily why global relocations fail. According to Manga Languages, a prominent language learning company, the top reasons why relocations fall apart are family stress, inability to navigate the culture, and language learning issues. All of these elements have a direct relationship to feelings of isolation, which can lead depression, and, ultimately, your transferee’s decision to go back to his or her home country. That’s why it’s crucial that, as an HR professional, you support your transferees during their adjustments. To ensure that your investment is successful you must help transferees overcome loneliness and connect to their new cities and countries.
We’ve put together our best tips for helping your transferee overcome loneliness.
- Help your transferee balance communicating with home and engaging with his or her new community. Gone are the days of paying expensive phone bills for long-distance calls. In today’s internet world, your transferee has more ways than ever to stay connected for family and friends back home. They can Skype or call for free online, keep up to date via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, and use all sorts of communication apps. It’s not impossible for your transferee to be locked into life back home 24-7. Some communication with home is a good thing, but it can quickly spiral into a way to avoid making bonds with a new community, and perpetuate feelings of loneliness. To help your transferee overcome loneliness it’s important to encourage him or her to take the time to meet new people, perhaps by joining a sports club, taking up a new hobby, or attending public events. The best way to create a bond with a new place is to build strong positive memories of it!
- Encourage your transferee to enroll in language courses, and support them in this endeavor! Whether your transferee’s new community is English or French-speaking, language skills are important to accessing services, meeting and interacting with people, navigating the workplace, and so much more. The Canadian government offers inexpensive or free language classes taught by skilled professionals. Local community centers, religious institutions and school systems also offer courses. Your transferee is going to be a busy person during the first months of his or her relocation, but there are plenty of options to fit every schedule – from online learning to night and weekend classes.
- Encourage your transferee to get to know the neighbors. While it may be intimidating for your transferee to knock on the doors of neighbors, you should encourage them to do it. While Canadian neighbors may not always initiate a meeting like this, we are friendly, helpful people who are receptive to others who reach out. Those who live close by are often the best resources for the small yet important details of life, like where to get a carton of milk, what’s the best nearby pharmacy, or how to use public transportation. Neighbors have special localized information that can prove invaluable, and they provide great insight into the cultures and customs of a new place.
- Connect your transferees to local expatriate meet-up groups. Your transferees may not be aware of the many great local expatriate meet-up groups and organizations that take place in cafes, restaurants, community centers and homes in all big cities across Canada. That’s why it’s so important that HR professionals research the options and have resources available to share with transferees. Your company should encourage transferees to reach out to these groups, attend events, and join social media communities associated with local expatriate culture.
- Practice and encourage patience. Relocations are not always easy for companies, and they are certainly not easy for employees transferring to a new country. That’s why it is so important to harness your patience and remember that the process of integrating into a new environment takes months or in some cases longer. Your transferee may feel that the discomfort of isolation will never go away, but if you exercise empathy, listening skills and patience, you can help them get through the most challenging times and come to a place of comfort in, and excitement about, their new homes.
For more useful information about Canadian culture and adjusting to an international relocation, check out some of our other articles and services.