Human resources executive Lawrence Laier, in his interview with social networking site X-Expats, echoed the sentiments of many ex-expatriates when he said that the repatriation part of the expatriation/repatriation cycle in a company tends to be a sore point for many returning employees after an assignment abroad. Companies often fail to follow up on their returned employees or don't seem to know what to do with them when they return. To ensure expatriate satisfaction and retention, HR should have clear policies in place for both the expatriation and repatriation portions of the process.
International human resources management organization the Expatriate Foundation underscores the importance of keeping lines of communication open and expectations clear. Often expatriates will believe that after their assignment, they will be promoted; when they are not, this can cause unrest in the ranks. In an expatriation plan, HR should first establish an understanding with the expatriate about the nature of the overseas assignment -- for example, whether it is a developmental or task-oriented assignment. He should be assessed before departing, using risk profile assessments and personality tests, says living abroad resource Expatica, so the company is sure he is the right person for the job.
According to the Expatriate Foundation, many companies with expatriates neglect to have a career review with the expatriate before she leaves. During this conversation, managers should have at least an outline of the potential career path the expatriate has ahead of her so she knows what skills to develop while abroad. Furthermore, a reporting protocol should be established by which the expatriate is required to keep the home office informed of developments. The company should assign the expatriate to mentors at home and abroad and encourage home visits to keep the home-base connection strong.
While companies may take extra steps to ensure that their expatriates get the resources to make the transition overseas, the forgotten phase in the cycle tends to be when the expatriate returns home, or repatriates, notes Expatica. The underlying assumption, Laier says, is that the repatriate knows his own country and does not need help in readjusting beyond transportation support. As the Expatriate Foundation discovered, for repatriates returning after three to five years of service overseas, reassimilating back into their home culture can be even more traumatic than going abroad. To make matters worse, they get less help with that part of the process.
To deal with the transitional issues that accompany a repatriation, companies can plan in advance for the employee's re-entry. The repatriation plan should provide for reintegration measures, such as a prerepatriation trip for the repatriate to investigate schools and do networking, according to people management and business strategy publication "Workforce," while also securing counseling for all family members upon repatriation. The Expatriate Foundation says that while financial assistance is important for repatriates, applauding the contributions of the returnees -- through events or write-ups -- is just as valuable in making them feel part of the organization and, ultimately, retaining them as employees.