Repatriating Employees

Published June 26, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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The most significant strategy organizations can implement to retain repatriated employees upon their return from an international assignment is to become a positive partnering force and an active participant in the expatriate and repatriate processes. Hyder (2007) deduced that leaders who develop and design effective programs to assist the employee and their families in the expatriate and repatriate process fostered deeper relationships and connections with their employees. When a staff member has a positive experience with expatriation and repatriation, they perform at higher levels and are likely to stay in a long term commitment with the organization (Hyder & Lovblad, 2007). For example, when an employee is assigned an international position, they need to have a firm grasp on their new culture both in and out of the organizational climate. For instance, not knowing the differences between AC and DC current can present a huge problem for an American family trying to plug in their electronic devices. Another challenge they will encounter is when they make an attempt to purchase a DVD. If they are not cognizant of PAL and NTSC formatting they will face more challenges and create stressful situations. A lack of knowledge can have enormous impact if they are not identified and addressed prior to the relocation process. In addition, making sure employees learn how to navigate through their region is equally important in countries like Britain where the road systems are designed for driving on the left side. These are the kinds of the issues that can cause distress and anxiety for an individual that is not trained or prepared.

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When expatriates return after a substantial amount of time living in a different environment they must find a way to readjust because so many changes may have occurred during their absence. Hyder (2007) suggested that leaders design systems to help employees understand that the repatriation process is a crucial part of the training for an international position. In addition, they need to know that the organization is backing them with their assistance and moral support (Hyder & Lovblad, 2007). Foreign assignment employees must learn to adjust to a new environment and when they finally make the adjustment and begin to feel comfortable, the assignment is completed and they return to their home land, only to have to readjust to the changes that occurred during their absence. For example, due to a medical condition, as a young teenager I was sent to Greece alone. Although I stayed with relatives and had a pretty firm grasp of the language I still experienced a severe level of cultural shock. I had never traveled alone  before, especially to a country outside the US. I was not prepared for the trip. However, when my father advised me that within a few days I was to spend my entire summer vacation in Athens I became upset and nervous. I had been looking forward to spending the summer school break with local friends. At that time, no one in my family had the tools to help manage my anxiety and fears of traveling, let alone getting adjusted to a foreign country. I was hesitant to go because I was not prepared for the experience. However, once I adjusted to the new culture and got into a routine, by the end of my three month visit, I did not want to return to the states. When I did, I found myself feeling like a foreigner in my own country because no one helped me with the repatriation process. My friends made fun of the new style and manner of communication I adopted. I felt alone and isolated. Today however, with advances in modern technology like Skype, Instant messaging, and other forms of social media, people are finding ways to keep better connected with their home land, while they are away on foreign assignments.

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Organizational leaders that establish effective programs and systems to assist employees in the expatriate and repatriate processes, help employees and their families transit smoothly and thereby create a more pleasant experience overall. Employees that are happy are likely to remain loyal to an organization who value their staffers and invest in their health and well-being. Dessler (2011) purported that organizations who provide employees with a repatriation process that includes: (a) a realistic view of what to anticipate, (b) effective orientation programs, (c) screening devices to assess weaknesses and strengths, and (d) efficient benefit packages to assist them, improve their success rate of retaining personnel after they return from international assignments (Dessler, 2011). Leaders who help employees identify their own culture and help them acclimate to the new foreign culture, will most likely have a positive experience. When employees are supported by their organization, staff members feel more confident and motivated. In this state, they are better equipped to make effective decisions and perform at higher levels. In conclusion, an organization that supports their employees in the expatriation and repatriation processes, creates a culture that develops more productive staff members who will remain loyal and active in driving the success of an organization.

References:

Dessler, G. (2011). A framework for human resource management (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Hyder, A., & Lovblad, M. (2007, January). The repatriation process – a realistic approach. Career Develop International. Bradford, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing, Limited. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13620430710745890

Palmer, T., & Varner, I. (2005). Role of cultural self-knowledge in successful expatriation. Singapore Management Review. Singapore, Singapore: Singapore Institute of Management. Retrieved June 09, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/226851345?accountid=32521

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