A high proportion of returning expats end up leaving their jobs, a simple fact that continues to underscore the need for multinationals to enhance their strategies for retaining repatriated talent.
On the same page
For starters, experts advise companies to openly discuss with returning expats what roles might be open to them in the future, or simply what they will be doing on return. If they don’t, there may be misunderstandings and expensively-developed talent can be lost. When embarking on an assignment the expat was likely crystal clear on their role. Some expats may be coming home as that task is now complete – so what’s next? If they don’t know, it’s due to a lack of forward strategic planning. Help them to visualise how their career will continue to develop in repatriation.
A family affair
HR and Global Mobility departments would also be advised to devote attention to the expat and his/her family’s return on the domestic front. There may be no house search, no schooling problems, and certainly no language barrier, but the repatriation experience can be fraught with emotional complexity. It’s important everybody is on the same page. How can the expat, partner and family, while still on assignment, best mentally prepare for their homecoming? Do they know what support is available? The more clarity there is (at all stages), the less likely it is anybody will feel resentful down the line.
Pre- and post-care
At the end of the day, expatriation and repatriation support is not simply about logistics – moving people and possessions around the world really is the easy bit. To avoid losing talent, the expat (and partners) need both pre- and post-repatriation support. The former can begin the day the assignment begins. Remember to keep communication channels open through the assignment to keep the expat up-to-speed. In this day and age of instant digital communication, no expat should feel like they’re ‘at the end of the line’.
Soft landing assistance
HR departments can also show a soft touch to ease repats back into the swing of things at the office upon return. This means reacquainting them with routines and helping them feel like they’re part of the team on both a professional and social level. Make sure everyone (managers and colleagues) is not only aware who is coming back but also clear on what this valuable team member will be bringing to the table in terms of skills and expertise.