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Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) is a global petroleum company with joint headquarters in London and The Hague. The company employees over 100000 people, approximately 5,500 of whom live and work abroad at any given point in time. Shell’s expatriate managers are a highly diverse group, representing over seventy nationalities and working in more than a hundred countries. The company support this because it realizes that as a global company, success requires the international mobility of its workforces. Over time, however, Shell found it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain key personnel for overseas assignments. To understand the problem, Shell surveyed 17000 current and former expatriate employees and their spouses who had declined international assignments. According to the survey results, five key issues had the greatest influence on willingness of employees to accept an international assignment. In order of importance, these were: 1. Separation form children during their secondary education (children’s were often sent to boarding schools in their home countries while their parents were away). 2. Harm done to a spouse’s career and employment. 3. Failure to recognise and involve spouses in the relocation decision. 4. Failure to provide adequate information and assistance regarding relocation. 5. Health-related issues, such as access to good hospitals, or the ongoing ailment of a family member. As a result of these findings, Shell implemented a number of programs developed to make it easier to make it easier for employees go abroad. To help with the education of children, Shell built elementary schools for employees in locations with heavy expatriate concentration, such as Nigeria. For secondary education, they work with local schools, often providing grants to help upgrade their facilities and educational offerings. They also offered employees and educational supplement for parents wanting to send their children to private schools in the host country. Helping spouses find suitable employment proved to be a more vexing problem. According to the survey, half of the spouses were employed when the international assignment was made, but only 12 percent were able to find suitable work after arriving in their new locations. Shell established a spouse employment centre to address the problem. The center provide career counselling and support in locating employment opportunities, both during and immediately following overseas assignment. The company also agreed to reimburse up to 80 percent of cost associated with vocational training or reaccreditation. Finally, Shell established a global information and advice network, known as the Outpost, to provide support for families contemplating overseas assignments. The Outpost is headquartered in The Hague and now run forty information centers in more than thirty countries. Staffed by spouses and fully supported by Shell, this global network has helped more than 1000 families prepare for overseas assignments. The center recommends schools and medical facilities, and provides housing advice and upto-date information on employment, overseas study, self-employment, and volunteer work. Clearly, Shell is working hard to provide a supportive work environment for its global emp

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