Multinational Companies & The Hiring Of Expats In Jamaica

I saw an interesting article in local Gleaner newspaper about a multinational company who’s expat director quit his position, after being in a new position for less than three months.  According to the article, “he was well liked and was doing a good job here, but I don’t think his family really settled here and there was an opportunity which came up for him in South Africa”

Read the entire article by Susan Gordon a business reporter at the Gleaner newspaper:

http://www.gleaner-ja.com/gleaner/20081001/business/business5.html

There is currently a rule in Jamaica that says, any job being offered to an Expat will eventually have a local replacement,  and once the individual has been trained by the expat and is ready to take on the responsibility, the expat will be replaced. l fully endorse such a plan, but I also see the need for the expat to be able to understand the cultural challenges that may come into play as he the expat moves to a new culture.

His or her being here on the island could create new skills for others in an environment where many locals who get trained in specific fields on Jamaican soil, choose to migrate. I think that training for export is leading to a brain drain in several areas, so if Expats can  come in and provide training then great. ex.( Cubans arriving to JA to take  up nursing  or Medical positions)

Large Multinational companies recognize  that as things currently are in Jamaica Re: skills, they need to hire  individuals with certain skill sets to fill vacant positions across the island. My question then lies with what processes do these companies have in place to support an Executive and his family as he considers moving to Jamaica for a job opportunity from as far away as India or Malaysia?

The hiring of an expat as every Human Resource department is aware of, is no simple matter. The process can be timely and extremely expensive, as expat packages involve work permits, flights for interviews, housing for the family, schools for children etc. etc. Where are families supposed to get such information and assistance with settling if they do decide to relocate.

If this relocation function is mismanaged at any stage, a company may risk what I call a “relocation gone buss” which happens very often for no particular reason. I have been in Jamaica for three years and I know of at least half a dozen cases of people I know whose relocation’s went sour in less than a year. The entire process of hiring expats needs a structured plan or process to yield  win win situation for all involved.

The  above article, is a clear example of a relocation gone sour. Could this particular director and his family have benefited from some early intervention steps such as a pre- arrival trip? and if such a trip is impossible, did this family have any true knowledge of what day to day life would look like here in Jamaica?  I can only guess.

What I do know, is companies lose a great deal of money and productivity each time a relocation goes sour. I continue to get daily emails from individuals thinking of relocating to this beautiful island in the sun, and the reality is Jamaica’s image is large, so the work must begin to support people who are willing to move to the Island.

I often say to friends that Jamaica has a great potential, as once you leave Kingston the city it can be an amazingly beautiful country.

Kingston: Downtown Part II> Done 2007 by Ria Bacon