The Need for Pre-Assignment Health Screenings



Figures released by British mental health charity Mind in September of 2018 revealed that poor mental health at work is becoming a more common issue than ever before. In fact, 48% of all people surveyed said that they’d had a mental health problem in their current position. Of these, only half had spoken to their employer about these issues, demonstrating that a vast number of workers are struggling in silence.


Although this study only looked at the UK, we can be confident that similar mental health problems can be found globally. If we put these findings in the context of expatriate workers, we can all easily understand how mental health issues could be exacerbated, or created. The chance to work abroad can be extremely exciting for many, however, the potential stress and culture shock from a global relocation can undoubtedly become a flashpoint for more substantial issues.


The Consequences

When looking at the downstream problems that mental health issues can cause, the big loser from a business perspective is clearly the employer. The financial repercussions alone for a failed relocation can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the situation, not to mention all the lost work hours and redistribution of work that may be required. This, of course, could then increase stress on other workers and cause a chain reaction of issues for the business.


When we look at such a situation from our perspective as insurers, a mental crisis in an individual under our cover has a high claim probability for medical assistance. We are in the business of claims after all, and such payments are expected, but to ensure continued effective operation the frequency and cost of claims must be kept under control. Therefore, it is in our prerogative to assist where possible to minimise these health problems for the good of the individual transferee, the employer, and ourselves.


Pushing for Change

The reality is that there is no way to filter out unsuitable applicants with total efficiency. However, professionals in the global mobility arena already work to select the best potential assignees in the planning stages of a relocation across a variety of factors. What we should be doing is advising that medical assessments are an essential point of the evaluation process, and need to be included more often. Both the physical and mental health of an individual are large factors that can point towards their success or failure when placed into new and stressful situations.


By consulting with our long-term clients on these matters, or by offering lower premiums for adequately assessed individuals, we place this valuable practice in the spotlight for global mobility managers. A thorough medical clearance process for assignees will not only reduce the incidence of mental health issues for expat but promote better handling of mental health issues within these companies, for the good of us all.



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