Now we know why repatriates are valuable to your business, the question is how do businesses work to keep returning employees in the fold?
1. Begin the repatriation process before an expat leaves on assignment
This may seem counter intuitive but planning for an employees return before they leave is a great way to ensure a smooth repatriation. Taking some time to help an employee understand what they are likely to come back to is useful in preventing a disconnect between what they may hope for and what your business can offer on their return.
2. Set clear expectations about post-assignment career advancement
Expat assignments can usually be distilled down to two motivators, employee development or task completion. If your employees are primarily sent overseas to complete a task rather than for their own development, the business may not be able to guarantee a promotion when they return. Communicating this early in the process is essential to manage employee expectations.
3. Conduct career planning
Before an expat leaves on assignment, the best people or mobility managers conduct some form of career planning. Although it may be difficult to plan for three- or five-year’s time, try to establish an outline of what their career trajectory could look like on their return. Even if it changes, again it is a useful way to manage expectation.
4. Assign every expat a home mentor
Prevent your expats from becoming completely disconnected from what is happening in their home office by allocating them a home mentor. Encourage regular meetings. Staying connected to the corporate office is critical to a successful repatriation.
5. Maintain regular communication
Similarly, to their mentor, regular communication from HR or mobility departments helps expats stay in touch with the home office while they are away. It is easy for communication to drop off once an expat is settled but you will aid the repatriation process by keeping communication going throughout the assignment and ramping it up as the assignee gets closer to returning home.
6. Facilitate visits to the home office
If an expat is on assignment for several years, try to facilitate a return to their home office for a week or two so they are not completely disconnected. This offers the opportunity to meet new employees in person and catch up with colleagues and friends.
7. Provide repatriation assistance
Businesses are very good at providing employees with assistance when they are going on assignment, there may be a formal pre-departure training course as well as financial and practical help with settling into their new home. Few offer similar support when an employee returns, even though they may face the same challenges of finding a place to live, schools for children and reverse culture shock. Any assistance you can provide during an often-unexpected difficult time is likely to be much appreciated.
8. Recognise expat experience
Last but by no means least, encourage repatriates’ teams to do all they can to acknowledge and recognise an expats international experience. If a promotion is not possible, can they be put on an international project or used to train others going on expat assignment? Be as creative as you can be to keep repatriates engaged and challenged.
With some planning and investment your business can look forward to retaining more repatriate talent, so it achieves the best return on investment on these valuable employees.
While repatriate retention may be a challenge for your business, expat health insurance does not have to be. We work with your business to find the best international health insurance product for your expat employees.