employee mobility overseas

In today’s globalised world, sending professionals abroad helps give companies a competitive edge. International assignments aren’t easy and global mobility programs certainly require a lot of fine tuning and updating.

The Harvard Business Review studied the management of expats at more than 750 companies in the US, Europe and Japan. The study found that between 10-20 per cent of all US managers sent abroad returned early due to job dissatisfaction or difficulties adjusting to the foreign country they were placed in.

In addition, one-fourth of those who completed an international assignment left their company, often to join a competitor, within one year after returning.

How to prevent expats returning early

The study found that the main problem with global assignments was that managers didn’t believe their employees required engagement while they were on assignment and upon their return. Many managers didn’t put aside time to communicate with their representative abroad and instead assumed they require no assistance.

Another issue is that many staff in the home office didn’t think that returning expats needed help adjusting after being away for just a few years. Few HR Managers—only 11 per cent, according to the study’s research—have ever worked abroad themselves, meaning they often struggle to understand the challenges expats face at every stage of an international assignment.

Managing the return

Therefore, it’s important for companies to help their returning representative to settle in back home. Culture shock is something that many assume only happens when moving to a foreign culture, but in fact, it can work in reverse.

Returning home is a major change in professional and personal lives. Expats need as much attention when they return as they received when they moved to a foreign country. It’s best to think of it as the expat returning to what is now a foreign culture.

Returning employees should be encouraged to stay in touch with the friends they made overseas but to also meet new people and reconnect with those back home. The best way for managers and HR departments to know what’s going on and what’s making it difficult for their employees to adjust to being back is to ask them.

Getting the return program right for expats will help companies increase their rate of retention.

Hire the experts

Not every company has the time and money to invest in setting up a global mobility program for their returning employees on their own. Grace are experts in managing every step of the relocation process, from the initial move and set up of representatives in foreign countries, to ongoing support and assistance when returning home. Working as a single point of contact, your Grace Mobility Specialist will manage the entire program for you. Get in touch with us and speak to a consultant for more information.