International assignments at Bosch Preparing for work abroad Important points to keep in mind

  • Preparatory seminars help combat culture shock
  • Guaranteed return to home country and job are factors for success
  • Chief personnel officer: “International assignments create associate networks”
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  • August 14, 2013
  • Business/economy
  • Press releases

press release

Stuttgart – If employees in Germany and elsewhere are currently packing their suitcases, it doesn’t always mean they’re heading off on vacation. Many are being sent abroad by their employers. Among these are specialists and executives who spend a few years abroad for their company. The objective is for them to share their knowledge with local colleagues, acquire new specialist competence, and gain international experience. At Bosch, the supplier of technology and services, several thousand associates also work abroad each year in regional subsidiaries around the globe. In 2012, more than 5,600 associates were on assignments outside their home countries. To help associates settle into their new cultures and to facilitate their re-integration into their home countries, systematic support before, during, and after the assignment is important.

“Right from the beginning of their time abroad, associates should start thinking about their return,” says Andreas Bäuerle, who is in charge of international assignments at Bosch. “This explains why our international assignments are limited to four years. Moreover, our associates receive a guarantee that they will be able to return to a job in the company that sent them abroad.”

An poorly prepared return often means dissatisfied associates. In some cases, they may even change employers shortly after returning. At Bosch, by contrast, the rate of turnover one year after the end of an international assignment is very low. The number of people who end their assignments prematurely is likewise under one percent. According to the HR expert Bäuerle, associates who want their long-term assignment to be successful should pay particular attention to the following points:

  • Pre-assignment talk: Two to four months before the assignment, its labor-law, tax-related, and financial aspects should be discussed. The associate’s partner should also be involved in the discussion, particularly when they also intend to find work abroad. The company can often help its associates’ partners in this respect.
  • Reconnaissance trip: This gives associates the chance to get to know their new place of work, new city, and new country together with their partner. The associated costs are usually paid by the company.
  • Intercultural preparatory seminar: This prepares associates and their partners for the new culture, its lifestyle, and its idiosyncrasies, and makes it easier to overcome any culture shock.
  • Language course: These help associates and their partners integrate into their new surroundings better, also in their private lives.
  • Mentoring program: A mentor from a higher hierarchical level supervises the associate and supports them on their return. He or she also helps with the internal job search ahead of time.
  • Network: Future expatriates can benefit from the country-specific expertise of associates who have completed international assignments. The exchange of experience is useful for preparation and for re-adjustment.
International assignments encourage diversity and networking
At Bosch, international assignments are a key element of HR policy. The cross-border exchange that happens when associates are sent abroad helps to facilitate two-way knowledge transfer between the regions. “International assignments play an important role in networking our associates. They also help us see things from different perspectives,” says Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. “This global knowledge transfer and intercultural exchange are part of our program to promote the diversity we need as a seedbed of new ideas.”

International experience as career stepping-stone
The majority of executives at Bosch have spent at least two years abroad over the course of their careers. But shorter assignments are also attractive for both employers and employees. Last year, Bosch sent some 2,900 associates on short-term assignments, which last between approximately three and twenty-four months. An assignment abroad is one of five career stepping-stones which executives must fulfill in order to reach the next hierarchical level.
International assignments have a long tradition at Bosch. As early as 1905, when the first Bosch manufacturing facility outside Germany was established, senior engineers came from Paris to Stuttgart in order to transfer knowledge and the corporate culture to the French location.

Bosch as employer:
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The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

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PI8233 - August 14, 2013

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