Why you should have a repatriation plan

by Lauren Acurantes13 Dec 2016
Oftentimes companies would have a global mobility programme where employees cover all the necessities for a move abroad – but according to relocation experts, employers tend to neglect what will happen to the employee once their assignment is over and they return home.

“The employee sees the assignment as a passport to promotion, but the employer simply wants someone to get the job done, and is not making any promises,” wrote Alicia Clegg at Financial Times.

That disconnect might lead to employees returning home feeling adrift or suffering from ‘reverse culture shock’ where everything once familiar feels new and alien, she said.

And this might cost employers not just the loss of talent but also a considerable amount of money, she added.

Clegg sought the advice of managers, HR specialists, and returned expatriates on the ways companies can help employees adapt to life back in their homeland:
  1. Be transparent – Manage expectations by being clear about what the position entails. If it is merely a role to fill a need or if there’s the possibility of a promotion, let the employee know from the outset;
  2. Recognise their achievements – It is important to keep track of their progress on their international assignment and to reward them accordingly;
  3. Stay connected – Encourage the employee to stay connected with colleagues from home, and if possible, offer the services of a  home country mentor (preferably a former expatriate);
  4. Have a plan – Plan for their return as soon as you start planning for them moving abroad and help ease their transition back by having someone responsible for helping them find their next role;
  5. Let them teach – Show former expatriates that you value their input by allowing them to share their experiences with their colleagues.
But most agreed that the one thing companies need to do is to have constant communication with expatriates about their planned return.

Relocation expert Brookfield Global Relocation Services conducted a survey on companies offering global mobility found that only 23% of companies talk to their employees about opportunities open to them upon their return.

“Talking to people from day one about the roles that might be open to them when they return … might result in fewer post-assignment fallouts,” said Clegg.

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