Senior HR Specialist
Prema Pillai is a Certified Senior HR Specialist possessing over 17yrs of rich, extensive experie... more>>
While greater number of such Organizations have a formal system of Expatriation (which in an employment context, is a process of sending employee(s) from their home base to work at a foreign location). Having a well defined expatriation process is important too, as it mitigates any problem that may arise from such transitions both from employee & business success point of view.
Re-Entry: Let us now consider employees post-assignment stage. How many Business Establishments do we think would have a laid down procedure of Repatriation (which in an employment context is, the process of readopting an employee back to his native, his home Organisation). Do Organisations consider Repatriation with equal significance? Or do we fail to notice the Growth and Development opportunity when resource(s) comes back from offshore assignments?
Having worked over a decade with Multinational Companies & associated with Business Leaders besides Senior HR fraternity, many of us barely have a Repatriation Management in place. From the observations, experience, discussions it was found 73% didnt have a structured system to follow in this regard. Interestingly, almost all of them do have a well laid thought out Expatriation program, which is timely updated too.
Firsthand: Inquisitively, to know how repatriates feel about this subject, an examinatorial study was carried out with resources globally placed who frequently experienced Expatriation & Repatriation in their employment life cycle. It was not surprising to know 81% had a dipping morale after their return to their Country of Origin for various reasons, which broadly summarizes an issue of re-acquaintance to their Parent Organisation. This was against a whopping 92% of the same set of People speaking so enthusiastically about their companys Expatriation process, as revealed through a semi-structured interview.
So, isnt the missing link so very obvious?
Repatriates retention is also one of the challenges Organisations face today. Many research statistics would indicate repatriated employees dont stay longer post their assignment, this contributes a substantial percentage to an Organisations attrition rate. The good news is it is governable. Immense (hidden) opportunities lie within this challenge.
To have a Win-Win situation for both Employee as well as the Company, a streamlined process of Repatriation is required and the following features could facilitate in designing such a program:
Re-Induction! Honor the employees return. Yes, the way new hires are effectively on-boarded, same approach - with context specificity, has to be extended to a Repatriate to help him get re-adjusted with his native. This will take off the anxiety factor from the returnee.
Share It! Let him commit to a Post off-shore visit briefing to Senior Management and his Team, where he may highlight learnings from the assignment. This opens up opportunity to share the overall overseas experience. Tie what he has learned to the Organizations challenges, goals and strategic plans.
It could be a forum for valuing repatriated employees opinion and effort, helping everyone have an understanding of the functioning of overseas office vis-a-vis the home office, as usually repatriates have become more flexible, knowledgeable, adaptable and tolerant - a behavioral positive change for everyone to observe and appreciate.
Trusted Guide! Let him be a Mentor to his fellow team mates who may have to be readied to take up similar assignments in future. The Repatriate would love to play an Advisory Role, will feel acknowledged in the eyes of his fellow beings. Since here stands a Lead who brings in real hands-on experience, for prospective Expatriates to be more confident for offshore roles, besides developing new perspectives linked to International assignments.
These sessions, therefore, have a tremendous positive impact on everyone. In the process, the Organization too gets chance to judge his mentoring, inter-personal skills besides other traits.
Optimization! Getting a Repatriate quickly to a project is also critical, as usually it is observed it takes time unless not planned in advance. Job related factors had been also a concern with the repatriated employees, as in the study conducted. Placement of the returned employee to a worthy position and getting him involved to a suitable Project (with due consideration to associated factors viz., role, salary, benefits, career advancement) can minimize re-entry shocks and career anxieties.
If these are delayed or takes longer than usual, it definitely triggers the uncertainties.
Knowledge & Experience Transfer! Let the repatriate record everything, from on-the-job project learning to his experience of having lived and traveled in other countries, the cultural differences, community groups, the likes, dislikes, challenges etc. This way People are encouraged not only to appreciate work and cultural similarities but to respect the differences too.
Documentation helps improve writing skills, adding value to his profile and channelizes to express how one could accommodate to a different, sometimes radically different, environment.
Organisations may also consider incorporating skills learned and experienced overseas into home country job efforts. Though at the same time, it doesnt mean Organization has to immerse in to make sudden alterations.
As Denis Waitely quotes, "You must welcome change as a rule but not as your ruler".
For a positive and productive passage, Repatriation and Expatriation requires equal thought and planning. Onus of responsibility lies on everyone who is an agent for and is a part of the transition, to make it a success.
Let Home Coming be a well connected integral part of overseas posting contract, to eventually pass the distress and feelings of being out of step with a once familiar home surroundings.
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