In essence, repatriation is about reconnection: to people, to places, to ways of life and to ways of doing business. Yet all too often the experience is fraught with complexity, frustration and disappointment – both for the individuals involved and for their business. At a time when the demand for globally minded leadership has never been so great, the failure to reconnect during this journey home can be extremely costly.
Industry statistics suggest that up to 30% of repatriates leave their organisation within the first one to two years of arriving home; a significant loss of globally experienced employees. Many of those who do remain with the business often struggle to re-engage and meaningfully apply – let alone leverage – their experience and knowledge. The resultant loss of return on investment, intellectual property, networks and future potential is both detrimental and alarming.
With many organisations all too aware of the issues associated with repatriation, most remain challenged as to how to best address them. While the role of global mobility varies greatly between organisations, traditionally the focus has been on providing a quality service that supports the logistical elements of relocation, and in setting up the expatriate and their family at the front end of an assignment (that’s to say, when an employee embarks upon the assignment). Little consideration has typically been given to the tail end, when individuals return from that assignment, and yet the failure rates can be considered on par with the initial phases.
Organisations that strategically align their talent agenda with their mobility practice are starting to see some of the trends reversed, however. Individuals and organisations alike are recognising the importance and need for international experience to support career and leadership development, talent pipelines and competitive advantage. Interestingly a recent survey of the Millennial demographic by Wakefield Research found that 84% are willing to relocate for a job and 82% believe that relocation is necessary to support career advancement.
As we continue to operate in a more globalised economy, with more people willing to relocate, how we assist individuals to repatriate not just their possessions but also their careers, families and lifestyles is of equal importance. Just as growth is vital to an organisation, it is equally vital to individuals; this is not to suggest that individual growth remains the exclusive domain of the organisation, but rather that organisations should help individuals identify how they can take ownership to drive these components within the expatriate and repatriate journey.
Here are 3 areas where you can assist your repatriates to adjust to coming home:
It is all too easy to assume that because individuals are returning home they will easily slot back in to what was once familiar. However businesses change, people change and sometimes even industry requirements change too. Clarity about the who, what, where and how of the business is essential if individuals are to quickly and confidently re-engage.
In order to bridge the gap between countries and regions, individuals need the chance to showcase and leverage their newfound knowledge, skills and networks in meaningful and relevant ways. Providing opportunities to do so helps create purpose and build connection at both an individual and organisational level.
As individuals return, there is often a sense of confusion around how and where they best fit within teams, structures and their individual roles. Helping individuals clearly understand the opportunity they are returning to, and their future potential within the organisation will help manage expectations and drive individual ownership.