Adapting to new cultures is one of the biggest barriers for employees wanting to work abroad

stress working abroad


A global survey found that only one in five of HR managers rate the geographic mobility of their young employees as strong. This means the majority of hiring executives think there is more their new hires can to do to develop the skills or levels of self-confidence to work internationally.

This is despite 92 per cent of the undergraduates being keen to work in abroad in the early stages of their career.

The survey found that 48 per cent of HR managers identified the ability to adapt to new cultures, while one-in-six highlighted language problems, as the two main barriers to employees working abroad.

Furthermore, 61 per cent of hiring executives recommended that working outside comfort zones is a key career driver for new hires, while 36 per cent said that taking on international assignments helps to boost the career growth of young professionals.

In addition, the survey also found that 87 per cent of HR managers rate speaking more than one language as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for future employability. 89 per cent of undergraduates agree, stating that they believe speaking more than one language is important.

Bertrand de Laleu, Global Vice President HR at L’Oréal said, “With English you just have half of it. We need to enlarge the scope. Beyond the language skills, the ability to work in very contrasted economies is a differentiator. Organizational diversity is crucial. It’s no longer only about New York, London, Paris. Now it’s also about Sao Paulo, Lagos and Mumbai.”

Roland Siegers, Executive Director of CEMS, adds: “Our research suggests that despite young people being eager to take on international assignments in the early stages of their career, only a small proportion of global HR Managers actually believe that these young employees have the optimum levels of skills and self confidence to work abroad. The main barriers identified are difficulties in adapting to new cultures and speaking foreign languages.”

“In an ever-changing, fast-paced working world, competition is high, so graduates need to find ways to set themselves apart. As international assignments within global companies open up, candidates with the language skills and the ability to adapt to new and challenging environments have a clear advantage when it comes to securing roles and progressing in the workplace.

“In order for young professionals to acquire these skills, it means going out of their comfort zone, living and studying in a foreign environment at an early stage in their career and immersing themselves in different cultures. In addition, many students are still under the impression that English is the international language of business, but learning a range of languages fluently will make the difference between an average candidate and excellent one.”