International Essential Guides: Pre-placement Assessment

pre-placement assessment

Between 20% and 40% of international employee assignments fail each year, due to expatriates and their families suffering from physical, mental, or medical health problems or a lack of preparation and integration training for the host country.

With such a high rate of failure still surrounding expatriate assignments and relocations, what can be done to prevent employees from feeling unprepared for this type of job opportunity?

One very important process is pre-placement assessment, helping staff and their families to prepare for the changes they are having to face.

Check out our need-to-know guide on pre-assignment screening and assessments.


Need help finding the right international employee benefits and protection policies for expatriate staff? Contact our team of AMII-affiliated experts for FREE quotes and advice. Call +44 (0)1273 974419 or click on the bottom right chat box.


What does pre-placement assessment mean?

Pre-placement assessments also referred to as pre-assignment screening, is a thorough risk assessment undertaken by a business ahead of expatriate assignments. They are vital in boosting the expats chances of a successful international placement and ensure both a return on investment and the wellbeing of staff.

The assessment can include the following:

  • Health Screening
  • Personal evaluation
  • Family support services
  • Measuring mental health e.g., depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Measuring current risk factors e.g., childhood trauma, adult trauma exposure, family risk
  • Resilience factors e.g., coping mechanisms, family/social support, healthy lifestyle

The aim of pre-placement assessments is to inform expats and employers of any current health issues or social/external risk factors that can affect the success of the assignment.


How does it work?

Screenings and assessments vary massively depending on the specific nature of expat assignment. We have broken down the services on offer into four sections, each targeting a different aspect of preparing employees before travelling overseas.

International health screening

Travelling overseas for an assignment can lead many expats to suffer from health-related issues producing higher failure rates, further expenses on medical evacuation, and having to handle staff absence and replacement.

Having a pre-assignment medical and health screening protocol will mean any unknown conditions will be flagged up and brought to the attention of both employer and employee. Following this, expats will then understand how to integrate within the local healthcare system in their host country, learning what’s available to them to help with any health conditions and how best to receive help once they have been situated.

International health screening is usually conducted via an online system which reviews:

  • Employee’s current health
  • Availability and quality of local healthcare in the host country
  • Risks that might come with the type of work
  • Length of assignment

All in all, these health screenings will predict, prevent, and prepare employees and their families before setting off on assignment and allow them to feel more in control if a health condition was to surface when overseas.

Pre-departure preparation and evaluation

This is all about helping businesses select the right candidates for an overseas assignment as not everyone will be suited to thrive in this working climate.

This is established through a Management Selection tool which identifies personal and business risk factors for each shortlisted candidate. On offer alongside this service, businesses can include coaching and skill building to provide employees with tools and coping strategies to thrive even more when on assignment.

Pre-departure family preparation

Focusing more on family members and mental wellbeing is another important element of pre-placement assessments. These assessments are counsellor-led sessions which build awareness and the skills needed to handle difficult situations.

Questions that are addressed could be:

  • What are the potential strengths and weaknesses the family have for the upcoming experience?
  • What are the potential problems?
  • What are the key skills that are needed to be successful in this venture?

Family preparation helps employees to identify any vulnerabilities and coping strategies to prepare the whole family for the assignment, addressing re-location and cross-cultural adaptation.

Destination services programme

Our final variation on pre-placement assessments is all about getting to know the host location and what this means for the employee and their family. Providing extensive international knowledge allows for expats and their families to feel confident in their move and gives a logistical hands-on approach.

Destination services programmes look at the following to make the transition as smooth and successful as possible:

  • An area orientation based off-of a preview trip to the host country/city
  • Assistance with lease and sales, and any other accommodation search
  • Assistance with any local necessities e.g., bank accounts, driving licence, local doctors, local dentist etc
  • Searching for and understanding local social systems in place e.g., the school system and registering children


Why are pre-placement assessments so important?

The average cost of an expat assignment is around £220,000 per year – this is a huge investment so ensuring assignees and their families are appropriately prepared are vital for business success. Physical and psychological factors must be considered when preparing a staff member for an overseas assignment.

It’s a huge transition to begin living and working in a new place with different customs. Without the proper preparation and toolkit in place, the potential for a failed assignment is high. Pre-placement assessment is designed specifically to combat this, minimising potential risks, and set to achieve the most successful outcome for everyone involved!

Below are a few extra reasons why offering a pre-placement assessment is important.

  • Employer duty of care: employers have full responsibility to ensure nothing happens to their assignees/expat employees, no matter the location
  • Visa requirements: for some host countries, specific medical checks are a requirement
  • Management of chronic illnesses:g., high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol can be difficult to manage with no personal knowledge of available treatment
  • Employees voluntarily opting out of assignments: this can happen after discovering a health risk through assessments – will save the employer expensive emergency medical/repatriation costs further down the line


The best route to seeking out help – the Engage International way

The international employee benefits and health insurance market is a wide and varied one and can be off-putting when finding which policies or products are best going to help your staff. Pre-placement assessments are no exception! Outsourcing to an international health expert or specialist consultant removes any stress from the equation.

Check out more international employee benefits here and see how else you can protect your international workforce.

Engage Health Group has a huge global reach of partnerships across 50+ countries and territories, meaning our 14 expert staff members have the connections and international expertise to assess what it is you and your employees/assignees need for a successful transition overseas.

Get in touch with one of our teams where we deliver the best advice and most competitive quotes on the market.

Contact us at +44 (0)1273 974419 or use the contact form on the bottom right. We’ll help plan and deliver the best scheme for your business going forward on your international venture.


Picture of Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor started at Engage in 2021, and is now a Digital Content Writer after studying BA English Literature at University of Sussex for the last 3 years.

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