Experienced employees repatriating from company-sponsored international assignments are highly pursued today by recruiters. The risk of losing these valuable assets – and negatively impacting the company’s Return on Investment (ROI) – is simply too great not to prioritize proactive, meaningful actions.
To protect the company’s investment in international assignees from eager competitors, organizations are encouraged to assess their program objectives and foster a successful employee retention culture with greater post-assignment recognition and career opportunities.
Achieving Meaningful Results
NEI suggests organizations ask the following questions to achieve meaningful results:
- How are assignment success goals defined and measured, and who reviews the results to gain meaningful insights into the company’s Return on Investment (ROI)?
- How do our employees perceive the value of international assignments? What do they feel are the positive and negative aspects of the experience?
- How do companies demonstrate the value it places in employees who accept assignments and are those rewards visible to others to reinforce the benefits of going on assignment?
Before a candidate accepts an international assignment, companies are encouraged to discuss the potential long-term benefits such an experience could have on their future with the company. While not all companies guarantee a position after an assignment’s completion, conveying how it has helped others in their careers can be an excellent recruitment tool.
Unexpected ROI Challenges
Repatriation for relocating families can have unexpected psychological challenges. Helping to establish repatriation expectations and highlight the potential reverse culture shocks upon returning are best discussed during the recruitment process, allowing the candidate to go into the experience with eyes wide open.
“Reverse culture shock is experienced when returning to a place that one expects to be home, but actually is not home any longer. It is far more subtle, and therefore, more difficult to manage than outbound shock precisely because it is unexpected and unanticipated,” says Dean Foster, founder and president of DFA Intercultural Global Solutions.
NEI can help clients support assignment repatriation retention strategies and company ROI. We recommend that companies:
- Initiate employee career discussions at both the onset of the assignment and within 6 to 12 months of the end of the assignment.
- Arrange for repatriation training three to six months prior to employees / families returning from assignment to ensure a smoother re-entry to the home country and a position in the company that could use their new skills.
- Survey repatriated employees for top-of-mind feedback on repatriation benefits, support and challenges, and track the career progress of these employees. It is common for employees to leave the organization within two years of being repatriated and these actions will provide a better understanding of why they left so strategies to retain those employees can be developed.
As your global mobility partner, NEI can support and address repatriation issues, along with assistance in achieving your assignee retention and strategic goals. We often provide clients with recommendations and support assignment analysis by:
- Conducting focus groups and / or surveys of employees who have recently returned from assignments.
- Interviewing company leaders and human resources to identify potential underlying issues and help future assignment candidate preparedness.
- Reviewing exit interviews of repatriated employees who left the company within two years to analyze causes that may be undiscovered by global mobility or business units within the company.
- Comparing tenure and turnover of repatriating employees to their peers who have not gone on assignment to determine if causes might be more related to business factors – like company business conditions, compensation increases, promotions, or skills development opportunities rather than a repatriated employee’s lack of ability to apply new skills gained from an assignment.
- Comparing retention and turnover rates of employees to and from specific global office locations.
- Understanding how many employees took advantage of recommended repatriation assimilation training and career discussions at both the onset of the assignment and within six to 12 months of the end of the assignment.
- Determining the impact on a spouse / partner who did not work while on assignment, but upon repatriation was unable to return to the workforce with suitable employment – especially if a dual-income household is needed upon return. Did the spouse / partner take advantage of company-sponsored career programs prior to repatriation?
- Analyzing the impact that a mentor may have had on the assignee, if he or she had one at any point during the assignment.
- Considering the pros and cons of offering a retention bonus for repatriated employees who remain with the company longer than two years upon returning and are also willing to act as mentors for company employees currently on assignment.
Leveraging Technology for ROI Analysis
NEI can review the client’s established priorities and targets relative to specific retention challenges, assignment locations, culture, and costs. We can help client stakeholders analyze the effectiveness and costs for offered and used repatriation benefits, which can be useful in making decisions or adjustments on future benefits. Our flexible technology and reporting tools also allow clients to see the program status and expenses in progress as they accrue, as well as total cost reports and more.
If a company’s international assignment ROI is based upon how repatriated employees re-integrate and benefit the organization through new skills and expertise gained on assignment. Such investigations are best done through one’s internal Organization or Talent Development teams working together with each repatriate’s receiving manager over a period of time.
Based on information received, we can help recommend solutions to meet global needs, integrate these changes into your program and assist with your ROI measurements and goals. As one employee indicated:
"Now that I'm back, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate everything that you have done for me and my family. You helped out more than you'll ever know. Thank you very much." ~ NEI Client Assignee
If you have questions or would like further information, please reach out to your NEI representative.