The Global Assignment was a Success. Now What?

Is repatriation an afterthought at your organization?

Global assignments provide a wealth of benefits for companies and employees. From gaining exposure to different cultures to increasing business expertise, transferees are primed to deliver long-term results for your company. That is – if they stay with your company after their assignment ends. 

Thirty-four percent (34%) of companies report losing talent after the assignment ends because there are no appropriate jobs available at the company.* This means the employee takes their invaluable company knowledge and subject matter expertise with them. “Companies that invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in international assignments understand there is a need to provide support for the employee once the assignment is complete,” says Ed Marshall, Practice Leader for Global Mobility at IMPACT Group. “But there isn’t always a clear internal process for how to do it. This drives home the need to place more emphasis on repatriation programs.”

Out of sight, out of mind.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of companies feel international assignments provide high-value experiences for employees, according to the Brookfield Mobility Trends Report.** Yet 86% of respondents report a lack of a formal repatriation strategy that takes career management and retention into account. 

“If a plan isn’t in place, it is easy for the employee’s work to slip under the radar,” says Ed. Stakeholders in the home country will be unaware of the employee’s key projects and contributions while she is on assignment. When her work goes unnoticed at the old office, her value goes unnoticed as well. “Providing support a few weeks before the employee returns is too late. Support should start three to six months before the assignment ends,” comments Ed. “This gives the employee time to reestablish connections at the old office. It gives the company time to analyze his achievements and determine which open positions are a good fit for his new skill set.”

Companies often lack a clear process for managing career planning for global assignments. “The person overseeing the assignment might not have international experience. They don’t know the nuances of working away from a home office for two to three years and then trying to return.” Factor in turnover rates and continuously changing business structures and it is unlikely that the transferee will work with the same person during the full length of her assignment. “It’s very easy for the employee to slip through the cracks. It’s not intentional by any means. But it is a reality.”

Strategic repatriation plans can be career savers.

One IMPACT Group client discusses what the employee will do when he returns before he even leaves. “The company realized they were making convenience hires when it came to international assignments. This meant they were sending the wrong people overseas,” says Ed. “Then the person’s career was ruined when they returned to no job.” Instead, the company initiated a proactive process to support employees from start to finish of an assignment. “To this company, it is worth it to begin the investment by championing the employee before, during, and after the assignment.” 

Ed goes on to say, “Companies invest upwards of $1 million dollars in an international move. There’s a real incentive for companies to place the employee in a new role after the assignment ends. Repatriation programs help transition results.” 

The focus of a successful program.

“Not all assignees are guaranteed a position once they return,” says Ed. “This doesn’t mean they won’t have a job after the assignment. It means they aren’t guaranteed a position.” 

The combination of proactive coaching, a summary of key accomplishments, and a detailed plan to stay in front of key stakeholders in the home office sets global transferees up for success. “Ideally support starts months before the assignment ends,” recommends Ed. “And it’s important for the employee to take responsibility for their career progression as well. They should actively grow their network within multiple departments of the company while they are away.” 

Allowing a one-on-one career coach to work with the employee enables her to analyze her accomplishment and skills and prepare a presentation of key achievements during her assignment. This ultimately demonstrates how her new skills and knowledge will fuel her next position within the organization. “You hate to hear a hiring manager filled an open position with an external candidate because they didn’t realize a repat with the same skill set was returning home in a few weeks,” Ed comments. “A successful repatriation program facilitates better communication about the repatriating employee at the home office to avoid this scenario.”

Do you need to develop strategic planning for your repatriating employees? Contact IMPACT Group today to discuss how repatriation programs can retain and maximize your returning talent.

*KPMG Global Assignment Policies and Practices Survey, 2015
**Brookfield Mobility Trends Report, 2015