An image of the Burj al Arab Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai Constant staff development is one of the hallmarks of any successful company. Firms that go the extra mile to ensure their employees are as highly skilled as possible are much more likely to stay ahead of the competition, but what if obtaining these skills requires the staff to head overseas? Companies, particularly larger ones, now operate in numerous different international markets, so having employees who are familiar with each territory the firm has a presence in can be invaluable, especially in client-facing or sales-focused roles where a lucrative deal can hinge on the representative’s knowledge of what his or her employer can deliver. While much of this information can be picked up remotely using presentations, training manuals and videoconferences, to really ensure staff are well-versed in something – exploring the possibility of new manufacturing processes, for example – then sending them to a foreign environment and engage with industries and personnel out side of their comfort zone is sometimes unavoidable. Rather than see this as a burden, companies can treat overseas training as a chance to reward their staff, as well as ensure they return home as a more useful employee.

Pick the right person for the job

In the current economic climate, budget is at the forefront of many firms’ minds, so sending an entire workforce overseas for any period of time simply isn’t economically viable. Therefore, it’s important to give some thought as to who goes, both from a personal and professional perspective. A staff member may be a perfect fit on paper, but if they happen to have a young family at home that they are reluctant to leave is likely to resent heading overseas. Chances are they will not be fully engaged while on the trip, and return home with a resentment towards their employer, rather than new skills and knowledge they are eager to pass on to their fellow co-workers.

Make it worthwhile

Heading overseas for training is a big commitment – both from the employee and the employer – so proper planning is required to ensure the trip is a success. If staff are heading over to learn about something brand new, be it a product or a service, then it is crucial they get the right information first time, so make sure you have a full understanding of the content of the course before investing time and money in sending them over.

It’s not all work

One of the most important things for an employer to remember when organising an overseas training programme is that it represents a great opportunity not only to upskill staff, but to motivate and reward them for good work. Consider using the opportunity to head overseas for a training programme as an incentive, as the promise of a trip abroad to top-performing staff can encourage healthy competition. With that in mind, it is important to allow those who head off on the trip some down-time, especially if they are away for a lengthy period of time. Consider building rest days into the training timetable and organising tours or other excursions, or giving them the option to explore at their own pace. Chances are, the training will be happening in a country or city they haven’t visited before, so the trip will help them broaden their cultural horizons as well as develop new skills. The downtime doesn’t all have to be enjoyed independently either; organising dinners out with clients or other colleagues in the country can ensure your organisation takes full advantage of its staff’s time spent overseas.

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