Expat to Repat: Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Sending an employee on a long term overseas assignment is a big decision for an Repatriation, and preserving the knowledge that comes with a returned expat, is one of the biggest blind spots in global mobility.organization, one made with the future of the company in mind. It’s anticipated that the employee will come back with a wealth of new knowledge and ready to take an expanded role in the company. What turns out to be the case for 38 percent of repatriated employees is that they leave their company within a year of returning from their assignment.

There are many possible reasons for this, including culture shock and lack of a position at the home office that reflects their new skill set. Here are some things you can do to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Plan ahead

The best resource in repatriation is foresight that might be years ahead of the actual return date. Start including the employee in succession plans. Bring them back for networking within the home office (especially if you might not have a job lined up for them). Start including them on the email and memo lists they will need before they arrive. Finally, arrange a return trip a few months before the actual date so the family can hunt for housing and register for schools.

Consider the employee’s financials

There are all sort of tax issues that come with repatriation. Although your financial people have been looking out for the company’s expenses during the assignment, the employee is probably coming back to the country unaware of their financial situation. Arrange for a consultation with a professional and provide any information they might need to make sure their dealings with authorities go as smoothly as possible.

Don’t forget the family

Upon return, the focus might shift to just the employee. Their family was away, too. Any counseling you arrange should be offered to the spouse and kids. Do what you can to make sure the spouse has an easy time finding work. And if you have some sort of “welcome home” gathering, invite the family.

Let them talk

You might think the employee would just want to slip back into the home office unnoticed, but most actually want to share their experiences with anyone who will listen. Make sure there are extensive debriefing meetings so the employee can pass on their knowledge. Arrange a repatriation mentor that can help the employee transition.

Want more information about making your developmental candidates global-ready? We and HR.com have just released a new white paper, “Driving Global Readiness: A Road Map”, full of new information about the importance of language learning in employee retention and training, as well as results from a recent survey about how employers and employees view the importance of making their workforce global-ready. It also comes with partner materials such as a global readiness talent map, development plan, and talent survey.

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