When Companies Don’t Tell The Whole Truth…

A True Expat Recruitment Story

If organizational growth is important to you... Truth Matters

Last week, I visited a new friend that has been an expat for about 4 months in a country that is nothing like the one her family comes from.

When her husband accepted the position, they were promised life in a compound – a guarded and gated community with streets, and parks, and amenities that vary depending on your location.

The day before they left home to begin their expat lives, they were informed that there was a housing shortage in the area they were relocating to. (When it was conveniently too late to get their previous jobs back or easily jump back into the life they had.)

So they boarded the plane anyway. (Would you feel slightly trapped?)

And for the past four months the two of them and their young son have been sharing a two-room efficiency apartment.   They have a love seat in their little kitchen and all three of them share a bedroom with their son’s toys. While their shipment of household items sits in storage.

Since their arrival they’ve been advised that it will probably take a year before they can be moved onto a compound, and presented with one alternative that gives them some immediate choices for housing but removes other benefits that they had counted on.

My friend’s situation is mild in comparison to her neighbors:

Several of them have more children so they’ve been given two apartments that don’t have a connecting door.

  • So who sleeps where?
  • Who watches the children and keeps them safe?
  • How to parents get time for themselves?
  • And how does everyone gather?

Her apartment has windows.

  • Most do NOT.

(Did your stomach just churn? Mine did – as I imagined living without sunlight and some kind of view.)

Thankfully – There are some positives:

  • The staff at the apartment building is very professional and kind.
  • The building is clean and well kept.
  • In spite of not having streets to walk, and parks to play in:  They have a several pools, an outdoor playground, tennis courts, Jacuzzi, a store, a restaurant…

However, this is not what these families were promised when they agreed to move across the world, quit their jobs, sell their homes, pack their belongings, and leave families, friends and all that was familiar.    

The truth is that the housing shortage is not mentioned by a majority of the recruiters – no matter what company they work for.

  • They fear that if it is mentioned – less people will agree to come.
  • And they won’t meet their objectives.
  • And their bonuses and maybe even their jobs will be at risk.

So they make their numbers today with half-truths and lies and don’t think about how that impacts tomorrow.

As a result new employees instantly question their new employers integrity and feel less secure.

EXPECTATIONS - How low should you go?And with each new experience they face, these families wonder…

  • What else they haven’t been told?
  • And how far they should they lower their expectations to stay mentally healthy?


And in those cases where family members aren’t willing and/or able to make the best of what they’ve been given:

  • Each one of them suffers.
  • And their bonds with each other struggle and sometimes break.

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy and civilization throughout the world – one thing which, if removed will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.  …That one thing is trust.  ~Stephen M.R. Covey

It’s a sick reality that the company doesn’t care about the individuals in the family, or the strength of the family unit.  

But they also fail to recognize that:

  • They now have a many new-hires that are not so focused, productive or loyal.
  • Each time they lie to their new hires, they set the precedent that integrity does not matter.
  • The organization becomes unhealthier, harder to navigate, and less able respond to a changing environment.  Eventually replacing growth with decline.

I am convinced that once organizational health is properly understood and placed into the right context it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Really. ~Patrick Lencioni

At every level of the organization: Truth Matters

Meanwhile my new friend’s family, neighbors and the company that spun the truth? – They are all blessed to have her. As she is turning lemons into lemonade:

If you are considering life as an expat be encouraged.  Not all companies work this way.  Some are towering examples of integrity.  

  • Do your research about local employment law and know if the laws will protect you.
  • If not, knowing how ethical that company you agree to work for before you agree to come is critical.  Use social media to connect to other current employees to find out about communication, security, medical questions, housing, school waiting lists, groceries…
  • Consider the questions and concerns of everyone in your family.
  • Pray about it.
  • And then decide if the risks are worth the rewards.

We’re 2.5 years into our first expat adventure.  I felt a lot of fear when we were asked to do this.  But we followed the process above.  There have been challenges, but the rewards have made it all worth it.

If you are a recruiter in this situation:  

Is it time for you to be a candle or a beacon?



image credit:  iStock

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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2 thoughts on “When Companies Don’t Tell The Whole Truth…

  1. What a powerful post, Chery!

    Your friend’s situation is an example of overcoming obstacles that we feel we have no control over. Several years ago I worked with someone who was a real bully. She wanted to run every aspect of a project that we were working on together. She had a hard time listening to what I had to share and often shot it down. The result was the same as you talk about-No trust.

    Organizations today like Amazon, have to work harder at being honest about their policies and values. Without trust, no company will find the best talent or be the highest performer. At some point, a lack of trust and transparency will catch up with them.

    I feel so sad about your friend’s struggle. She sounds like an amazing leader and survivor!

    Thanks for sharing Chery! I love your new video and the idea of being a candle or a beacon!

  2. This piece really gave me lots of food for thought, Chery. It is unnerving when huge organizations don’t take into account how much more they will get out of people by keeping to their word and feeding those people’s most basic needs for trust and security.