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Thriving abroad, a preventive training

Working abroad offers an opportunity for professional growth and personal development. However, recent research has highlighted that individuals who relocate for work may face integration stress and potentially related health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and physical health problems (Biswas, T., Mäkelä, L., & Andresen, M., 2022). This stress can arise from the complex challenges of settling into a new environment, including leaving behind social networks and family, adjusting to a new culture environment, and finding a balance between work and personal life.


The Conservation of Resources Theory

The conservation of resources theory (Hobfol, 1989) posits that stress occurs when individuals perceive a threat to or loss of their resources, which can include social support, material resources, or personal energy. In the context of expatriation, individuals may experience a loss of familiar social networks, the comfort of their home environment, and a sense of self-efficacy in managing new cultural norms and expectations. These resource losses can lead to feelings of isolation, uncertainty, and decreased well-being.


The Role of Protective Factors

While expatriation can be a challenging experience, protective factors such as social support and organizational support can help reduce stress and improve resilience. Social support from colleagues, friends, and family can provide a sense of belonging and reassurance, while organizational support in the form of language training, relocation assistance, and a focus on employee well-being can significantly enhance the integration experience.


ASTF's Initiative to Address Integration Stress

Recognizing the importance of addressing integration stress and its potential impact on employee health and well-being, ASTF has developed a series of preventive trainings aimed at mitigating the challenges faced by international staff. These trainings are designed for:


Concerned employees:

  • Understanding the specific challenges associated with expatriation: This includes providing insights into the cultural and social dynamics of the host country, as well as the psychological and practical aspects of relocating.
  • Equipping individuals with coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, as well as strategies for building social connections and managing work-life balance.
  • Providing comprehensive orientation within the local health system: This ensures that international staff have access to essential medical services and resources, helping them maintain their physical and mental health.

Other staff members:

  • Raising awareness about expatriation-related stress: This fosters a culture of understanding and empathy within the organization, encouraging colleagues to provide support and assistance to international staff.


  • Developing and applying techniques and a posture of healthy leadership approach tailored to this context of integrating international staff: This includes providing guidance on creating a supportive and inclusive work environment, recognizing, and addressing the unique needs of international staff, and fostering a culture of open communication and respect.


If you want to find out more about this approach, do not hesitate to contact your occupational health physician or accueil@astf.lu


Expats thriving abroad