Supporting Expats and their mental health

Advice for employers and their employees

Moving overseas for work provides an exciting career move and certainly provides an adventure in a new city. Despite this, expats can feel overwhelmed when having to quickly adjust to cultures, languages and new work responsibilities, heightened by the physical absence of family/ friends.

It is therefore important that both the employee and employer take responsibility for mental health. See tips below for employees and employers.

1. Making the right decision

Expatriate life isn’t for everyone so make sure to weigh up all options to ensure it is the right decision.


  • • Speak to other expats
  • • Be honest about any anxieties you have and speak to HR for advice


  • • Screen employees for their suitability for an overseas assignment 
  • • Introduce employees to other expats within the company
  • • Make sure the employee has all his/her questions answered

2. Preparing for the move

A 2016 survey of 5,000 people (Aetna) revealed that only 6% of expats worried about mental health before relocating. This can seriously under prepare employees for any upcoming challenges.


  • • Understand your risks and how to detect feelings of loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression.
  • • As independent as you may be, the physical absence of family and support networks can be hard, so make sure you can still access support whilst on assignment
  • • Culture-shock can be an unexpected and overwhelming experience. Before you go research traditions, activities, history, etiquette, politics and certainly learn the language. Being open-minded and respectful of your new culture will help you settle in quicker.
  • • Keep an open mind and be flexible when it comes to business culture. Learn what’s appropriate, speak to other expats, colleagues, HR and even LinkedIn contacts for advice.
  • • There is no better way to fit in than speaking the language. Take a course before you leave and keep this up by practicing as much with the locals as possible. 


  • • Shift corporate attitudes on mental health - take responsibility and tackle the stigma. Allow employees to feel supported as the better mental well-being of staff has a profound link to productivity and lowered absences.
  • • Offer cultural courses to help the employee prepare and be respectful in their new environment. This will help them adjust to their new surroundings quicker.
  • • Offer languages classes – this will be welcomed support and means they can interact with their co-workers, make friends much more readily, and integrate into the local culture quicker.
  • • Inform staff about managing their mental health and provide skills, such as preventative and coping behavioural techniques. This will improves knowledge and attitudes towards mental health and provide the knowledge for them to strive in their new environment.


3. Adjusting to life as an expat & accessing support


  • • There is more to your assignment success than being great at your job - be aware that your interpersonal skills become even more important when you aren't fluent in the local language or are unaware of certain cultural nuances.
  • • Communication is a huge party of sociability and so speaking the language will help you feel less of an outsider and able to better connect with people around you.
  • • Immerse yourself in the culture and make the most out of the experience and opportunities. Remember not to overdo it.
  • • Don’t rely on social networks as a form of communication – this does not replace personal interactions. Make the effort to stay in touch with people who care about you.


  • • Provide an environment where employees feel supported
  • • Ensure the company is able to tackle problems as they arise and provide support
  • • Offer employee assistance programmes and/or in-country support
  • E.g. telephone support, someone who understands their culture and speaks their language
  • • Offer full confidentiality / anonymous support – knowing their employer won't find out will help the employee ask for help, without fear of stigma and judgment in the workplace


Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - October

Be inspired this Autumn!

Relief of Leiden

Participate in the festivities of Leiden’s '3 October Festival' to commemorate the Spanish Siege and subsequent relief of the city in 1574. The entire city makes for one big party with a parade, fun fair, market, concerts and a grand firework show. set against the backdrop of Leiden’s beautiful 17th and 18th century buildings and canals, the festival celebrates many traditions. The morning of the event starts with a reveille, followed by an offering of herring and white bread, the traditional meal associated with the festival. After this, you can attend a memorial service in St Peter’s Church and enjoy another traditional meal of hutspot (carrot and onion stew) in the evening.

Children’s Book Week

Each year the Dutch Children’s Book Week celebrates and promotes reading for children up to 12 years old. This year, from 3-14 October, the town's libraries and primary schools organise fun activities and special lessons to follow the theme of the event, this year's being Friendship. As making friends is learnt when you're a child, the event wishes to address both the happy and exciting adventures within friendships, but help children understand the cruel nature of bullying and how it can be stopped.

Keukenhof Flower Bulb Market

To celebrate the start of the bulb-growing season, Keukenhof park opens for a very special Flower Bulb Market from 5-6 October. The market bustles with excited gardeners, ready to stock up and receive expert tips for growing the most successful crop. A large selection of exclusive and exquisite bulbs can be bought straight from the cultivator. If you love gardening, this one is definitely for you! Kindly note that you will only be able to pay cash at the event.

Museum Night

On 6 October, the 'Museum Nacht Den Hague' transforms museums and cultural institutions in the city centre, Scheveningen and Voorburg as they all open their doors to art-loving night owls. The theme ‘Ablaze’ will let you experience an exciting programme of activities, such as a passionate tango workshop and pepper vodka tasting. A ticket will give you access to all participating museums and institutions (with a one-time free entry until 31 December). A historical bus from The Hague’s Bus Museum will be used for shuttle services.

Dutch Design Week

Discover the work of young and talented designers of the future during Dutch Design Week, from 20-28 October in Eindhoven. The city is home to world famous Dutch Designers and is the biggest design event in Northern Europe, attracting more than 295,000 people from around the world! Exhibits, workshops and lectures are offered across many beautiful locations in the city, all celebrating the themes of experiment, innovation and cross-overs. Pay attention to the Dutch Design Awards to see who is crowned the top designers!


In the early hours of Sunday 28 October, the clocks will go back 1 hour for 'Winter Time', marking the end of 'Daylight Savings Time'. Sunrise and sunset will therefore be one hour earlier than the day before, meaning we can all enjoy an hour of sleep! Don't forget to change your clocks on the 27th before you go to bed.

Crossing Border Festival

One of Europe’s main international literature and music festivals will take place in The Hague’s cultural centre 29 Oct-4 Nov.
Crossing Border presents a unique combination of spoken word, music, film and visual arts. Besides the biggest names from the literature and music industry also undiscovered artists will be included in the programme. The focus of the festival is new developments in literature and music and their interconnection with other arts. 




Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - September

Immerse Yourself in Dutch Culture

World Port Days (Rotterdam)

From 7-9 September 2018 you'll be able to go behind the scenes of Europe's largest seaport! For lovers of all things maritime, as part of World Port Daysthis event offers a wide range of activities including harbour tours, demonstrations, spectacular stunts and a nautical market. Taking place in Rotterdam from 7-9 September 2018, this year's theme is Energize, of which you will be immersed in the energy of the port and all of it's new innovations. One of which is making the port a cleaner area.

Heritage Day

Enjoy exploring countless historical buildings and sites as they open their doors to the public. This special weekend, from 8-9 September 2018, is dedicated to celebrating Dutch heritage. In addition to having free access to monuments, there will also be a range of activities such as exhibitions, guided tours and music. The event is a celebration of Europe’s diverse cultural heritage and falls in-line with the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. To find out what sites you can visit, see here.

Philharmonic Gergiev Festival (Rotterdam)

Enjoy this lively classical music event, celebrating the 30-year relationship between Valery Gergiev, a famous Russian conductor, and the city of Rotterdam. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra also celebrates its 100th anniversary, so expect an all-round programme of performances across several stages, including international opera productions, major symphonic works and new Russian music. Taking place from 13-16 September 2018, this is not an event to miss! More info & tickets here.

Prince’s Day (The Hague)

An important event in Dutch politics, witness the King reading his speech from the throne on 18 September 2018. The speech, or troonrede in Dutch, mainly outlines the governmental budget for the year ahead. Prior to the speech, you can witness a royal procession and catch members of the Dutch Royal Family moving from the Noordeinde Palace to the Ridderzaal in a sublime glass carriage. Seen by many as the highlight of the day, expect a great atmosphere as thousands of people line the route. Besides being a political event, Prince’s Day offers many festivities!

Dutch Film Festival (Utrecht)

Taking place from 27 September - 5 October 2018, the Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht offers hundreds of screenings, along with premieres, talk shows, debates, workshops, parties and red-carpet events. As the largest event focusing solely on the Dutch film industry, it is an important platform for Dutch directors and actors, with the highlight being the announcement of the winner of the Golden Calf - the top prize in the Dutch film industry. Programmes are also made accessible for non-Dutch speakers. 

Kite Festival (The Hague)

See the skies of Scheveningen beach fill with colour as kites of all shapes and sizes are flown for the Kite Festival, 29-30 September. With over 100 international participants showing off their biggest and most impressive kites from around the world, it is a unique spectacle. This year's theme is Sea Aquarium and will feature flying fish, crab, snails and other sea creatures. Throughout the weekend there will be kiting demonstrations, stunts and workshops for you to enjoy. On Saturday evening, watch an impressive display of kites all lit up to decorate the sky.

Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - August

August's best open-air events

Floating Flower Parade (Westland)

Admire the Floating Flower Parade,  a colourful spectacle on the water from 3-5 August in the Westland region. Boats decorated with flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables will sail different routes, passing through cities like The Hague, Delft and Vlaardingen. The mission of the parade is to present and promote local produce of the Westland region, famous for its glasshouse horticulture.

Various activities will be organised along the route, such as markets and music performances. It is recommended to visit the boat parade by bike, since the event draws over 500,000 visitors and the Westland region is equally as beautiful for cycling!


Experience the largest inshore sailing event, the annual Sneekweek in the province of Friesland. This event, taking place from 4-9 August, attracts thousands of water sports lovers. The event kicks off with an opening ceremony, followed by a fleet show, traditional sailing competitions, fun fair, market and entertainment by local music bands.

Sailing Championships

The Skȗtsjesilen Sailing Championships, from 4-17 August, are also organised on the Frisian lakes. These spectacular competitions with historic flat bottom boats (skȗtsje sailboats) see the skippers fight for the honour and chance to gain the challenge trophy. It is a unique experience for both young and old and one of the top events for Dutch tourism.

International Fireworks Festival

Enjoy the exciting and famous International Fireworks Festival in Scheveningen from 10-11 August and 17-18 August. Each night, teams from around the world put on their most impressive displays from a pontoon at sea, whilst the audience enjoys the view from the boulevard and the beach of Scheveningen. In addition to being mesmerised by the light and colour of the sky, you can also enjoy music, jugglers and fire eaters on the boulevard. The festival is very popular and attracts up to 100,000 visitors, so it is best to plan ahead to avoid traffic.

Balloon Fiesta (Barneveld)

Visit the impressive hot air balloon festival in Barneveld from 22-25 August. The Fiesta is a unique experience, giving you the opportunity to view hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes prepare and take-off to the skies. The balloons will slowly drift towards the cities of Apeldoorn and Arnhem and then return to the festival ground for an evening of magical Nightglow. During this show the balloons will light up as lanterns and decorated with lasers which dance to the festival music, a breathtaking spectacle!

Music and more

10 – 19 August: Grachtenfestival Amsterdam

Classical music festival on the Amsterdam canals. The most unlikely spots will be transformed into stages for performances by young talents and established artists.

23 – 25 August: Jazz in de Gracht The Hague

Find yourself a spot along the canal to see the floating Jazz Festival pass by on characteristic flat bottom boats.

24 – 26 August: Uitmarkt Amsterdam

A richly varied programme offering the best arts and culture at different venues throughout the city. It is the largest cultural festival in the Netherlands and is free!

24 – 26 August: Jordaan Festival Amsterdam

Visit this typical Dutch event in the old folk district called the Jordaan. A must for those who like to sing along with traditional folk songs by Amsterdam’s famous artists.

25 – 26 August: OVG Veerhaven Concert Rotterdam

Discover Rotterdam’s maritime atmosphere at the Veerhaven while enjoying an open air concert by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Arrive by boat or take a seat by the docks and enjoy the last days of summer.



Categories: Team Talk


Denmark - a destination for highly skilled labour


At the end of May we attended a networking event with Erhverv Aarhus & Vestas in Aarhus. The focus of the event was how businesses function in globalised markets. and the difficulties it poses for them.

Many of our customers want to hire skilled foreign nationals to keep up with the rising demand for product development in the engineering industry. Understandably this is not as simple as it seems. The problem isn’t finding highly skilled candidates, but the candidates themselves questioning if Denmark is the right destination for them.

The ease and wealth of information available to today’s workforce mean news and current developments can be found at the click of a button. Before making the big decision of settling in Denmark, candidates will naturally research their options, ultimately asking if Denmark is the right fit for them.

The media tends to portray Denmark’s political climate in a somewhat harsh light. The stance on immigrants has toughened, directly affecting all businesses’ ability to hire foreign employees.

Our customers and businesses in similar positions experience many questions from potential candidates – highly skilled candidates that can choose to work anywhere in the world. ‘Why choose Denmark, if Danish people and the system don’t like foreigners?’

We just want to make it clear – in Denmark we welcome everyone.

We have a great social atmosphere, a unique sense of humour (once you get the hang of it), a safe society with low crime rates and fantastic work-life balance with the possibility of enjoying one or more hobbies after work. Most importantly, you are welcome here, and we have great programmes and communities that can help you settle in well, whatever your background or situation.

Before allowing the media and news to adversely affect your decision to move to Denmark, try to learn more about Denmark and your new employer. Speaking to current employees is a great way of finding out about a company’s work culture, and also the social life available outside of work. Reading up on an employer’s mission and values is also a great reflection on the company and a way to work out if you would fit in there.

- Emilie Falk

Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - July

Have fun this summer

Amsterdam Roots Festival

Experience an exciting musical journey through the most diverse cultures and styles during the Amsterdam Roots Festival from 1 until 8 July. It is the leading festival of non-western music and includes fado, zouk dance, hip hop, Latin-jazz and rumba. In the 35 years of its existence it has grown in diversity and evolved from what used to be just the Africa Roots Festival. Now the performers come from all corners of the world, from the Caribbean and Cape Verde to South Africa and Mongolia. The highlight of the festival takes place in the Oosterpark where you will be able to enjoy over 40 performances. At other indoor venues, such as Carré and the Melkweg, there will also be a series of lectures and performances.

North Sea Jazz Rotterdam

Enjoy star-studded performances by the best international jazz, soul, blues, funk and pop artists at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam from 13 until 15 July. It is the largest indoor music festival in the world and known globally for its multitude of music styles and exciting line-ups. Although the number of visitors has reached up to 70,000 in recent years, each stage has an intimate atmosphere as the performances are spread across different floors in Ahoy. The event is a must for every jazz lover who wants to see internationally renowned jazz legends perform or discover upcoming talents.

Funfair Tilburg

Visit the biggest funfair of the Benelux region in the city of Tilburg from 20 until 29 July. This enormous fair, offering some 250 attractions and rides, covers the entire city centre to create a fairground of 4.5 kilometres long. It is a unique event with lots of festivities and spectacular fireworks on the last night of the fair. Pink Monday also takes place at the fair, one of the biggest gay emancipation and integration events in the country, attracting thousands of visitors and making it the busiest day of the fair.

Rotterdam Unlimited

Celebrate the summer with a five-day cultural and tropical festival during Rotterdam Unlimited taking place from 24 until 28 July. It is one of the biggest free street festivals in Europe offering a mix of live music, dance, theatre and carnival parades. The vibrant atmosphere will make the festival a trip to remember with a colourful and spectacular street parade and a battle of drums as the main events. Furthermore you will find music and food from all kinds of different cultures representing the cosmopolitan diversity of the city.

Gay Pride Amsterdam

Join Amsterdam’s celebrations around diversity and acceptance for all sexual orientations and genders during Gay Pride from 28 July until 5 August. It is a well-known event in- and outside the Netherlands and attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year. The festival offers a cultural programme with a range of exhibitions and movie events throughout the city. The biggest spectacle is the Canal Parade, with decorated boats sailing along the canals carrying costumed dancers and often statement-making messages. 

Categories: Team Talk

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