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Repatriation and Retention Lessons from FEM

Recently I attended the Forum for Expat Management 2015 NYC Roadshow. What an exciting buzz with many people in attendance from both the corporate and supplier side of global mobility! Everywhere I looked people were gathered together either at a roundtable event, a session, a supplier booth, or just in groups chatting about global mobility. One of my favorite panel sessions was “Repatriation, Localization, or Redeployment – Exploring the Best Succession Plans to Retain Top Talent.” The panel, moderated by Brian Friedman, Founder, FEM included Tricia Schneider, Director of Global Mobility, American Express; Melissa Sudano, Director of Global Mobility, CA Technologies; and Patricia Tavares, Global Mobility Regional Head – Americas, HSBC. Their combined expertise left me with several lessons but, today, I wanted to share some thoughts on repatriation and retention specifically.

Retention after a global assignment is a common HR issue, especially if the relocation program lacks proper repatriation assistance. But, in all honesty, it’s an issue either way.Repatriation Lessons from the Forum of Expatriate Management

One panelist described assignments as a “kiss of death” because many times the assignee no longer has a set position within the company upon return to the origin country. In other words, the assignee accepts that there is a finite time of employment following an assignment and most likely explores other options. If your company does plan on retaining a returned assignee, it’s important to discuss their position within the company before the assignment is complete. In fact, it may be best to discuss repatriation and the employees’ future with your company a full year before the assignment is finished.

Back to the repatriation side of things. Most companies, even those that don’t have a formal repatriation program in place, understand it’s an important thing to have. With international relocations often costing millions of dollars, expats are valuable assets with experience often unmatched at the origin office. Safeguarding these resources by making repatriation as easy as possible is central to a long-term human resource strategy and retention.

Quality repatriation assistance programs typically include counseling for dealing with the change, tactics for reconnecting with family, friends and colleagues, opportunities for mentoring future expatriates and support any other issues that arise for transferees, children and spouses during re-entry. Since some expatriates require additional counseling after their return, it is often useful to develop repatriation programs that are geared towards helping U.S. expatriates re-assimilate to American culture. It is best to implement these programs 4-6 weeks after re-entry so that the family has a chance to settle and identify any concerns.

The panel offered some really interesting insight. Especially because many companies are finding that their assignees, specifically those who have completed a longer assignment, don’t necessarily want to repatriate. Because of this, many companies are doing more localizations … a topic for another day.

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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