What is Repatriation?

Repatriation occurs when an expat employee returns to their home country. Unfortunately, it’s oftentimes an overlooked benefit in employee relocation packages. The process isn’t always easy on the assignee and can result in costly expenditures for your organization. However, if you have a clear plan in place to tackle these challenges, you’ll be ahead of the game.

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The Challenges of Repatriation

These are some of the challenges your expat employees might face when repatriating, and how to navigate these changes.

1. First, remember there will be changes in their job role: The repatriating employee may not know a lot about his or her next role yet, which is why it’s important to stay in contact during the change. Work out a plan with your repatriating employees so they each know what role in the company they will have when returning from their assignments. Even if they will retain their current position or title, their teammates and office culture will be changing once more.

2. Second, employees’ families will also be going through the adjustments: Just like relocating in the first place, it is important to make every effort to help assimilate employees’ family members during and after the move. Does your relocation package include spousal assistance to help the spouse or partner find a job and get re-assimilated? Offering school search benefits will also help when re-assimilating children, as their needs may have changed since they have been abroad.

3. Next, employees will need to re-adjust to their “home” surroundings: While employees may be moving back to their home country, they may not be moving back to the same location within that country. Your repatriation program should be prepared for aspects of the home location that will have changed from the last time the employee lived there.

4. Focusing on these three challenges will help your employees overcome the last potential hurdle of repatriation: Changing their perspective of where “home” is. Employees and their families have potentially been on assignment for a long time, and the country they are coming from may now feel like home. As the employer, be prepared to help those repatriating to think of this next location as home once more. Embracing and overcoming the changes of moving again will help employees re-identify with the location faster and allow you to be assured of their successful repatriation.

Source: Worldwide ERC®’s “Effective Repatriation Planning” Presentation, March 2017

How WHR Group Can Help

WHR Group has helped companies relocate their employees to countries all over the globe. We offer full repatriation program management, including program guidance and ongoing talent management recommendations to ensure your employees feel welcome, settled, and valued back home.

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