Employees Back Home Are More Efficient Essay
Issues in Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning to home country after living abroad for a notable period. It usually brings ambivalent feelings for returning expatriates and crop up challenges for HR managers. This paper refers to a BBC article, "When expats return home, what's next?", to examine the issues underlying the procedure of repatriation.
The article reflects that the retention for returning expats is a significant problem. Employees working in various cultures, communicating with a diverse set of colleagues and clients often feel that their "horizons are expanded". It may harden their re-entry back home, especially if the home office is located in less snobbish area than the foreign office, and the foreign assignment has enhanced the overall quality of life.
Retention issues offer a grave challenge for HR managers given the fact that around 16 percent of employees resigned in 2013, within the first two years after an international assignment ended. Scholars have identified that international opportunities become career limiting in many cases. Ironically, many returning expats are temporarily given makeshift jobs that undermine the skills they have acquired abroad. These reasons make their adjustment difficult into the organizations and they, eventually, lose their valuable employee.
Considering the cost involved in sending employees to international locations, retention issue forms a significant worry of the repatriation process. As the article states, the cost of these assignments is usually 2-3 times the expats' base salary, and more for some high-cost locations as Japan and Hong Kong. Thus, inability to retain an expat includes organization's cost in terms of losing their global experience, apart from the financial loss.
It is crucial for HR managers that they retain the people coming back home from international assignments. Researchers have asserted that the mismatch between the expectations of returning expatriates and organizational perception has exacerbated the problems. Hurn(1999) has listed some common anticipations as follows:
Everything is same as before
People with overseas experience will be given priorities in home country office
The organization and colleagues will value my new skills, contacts and experience gained during an international assignment
As many companies see repatriation be a non-issue, they fail to make the employees' transition a success. In recent years, a copious literature has been written considering the issues of returning expatriates, especially concerning their retention. The research highlights that global corporations lack in adopting repatriation programs; these programs can help the returning employee make adjustments in social and cultural settings of the home country.
It is presumed that re-entry is simple in home country that proves false in many cases. Most of the returning employees face psychological issues( reverse cultural shocks), and failure to address that result in low job satisfaction and motivation. Professors have established a strong connection between job satisfaction, job retention, and employee adjustment among returning expatriates. The issue involves multiple dimensions as psychological, social, cultural, and organizational; these multiple aspects make it a challenge for HR managers.
The issue pertains to international HR spectrum as global companies face these concerns more frequently. Managing in different cultural diversities is one of the biggest challenge for international businesses. Returning expats feel reverse cultural shocks when they don't feel homely in cultural and organizational settings of home country. Managing the global knowledge and talent is an overt challenge for companies, especially when they face high turnover rates among returning expats.
It is the reason that firms have started taking a strategic approach to repatriation. For instance, Royal Dutch Shell has integrated its talent management process with global mobility programs.
"We’re managing the repatriation process closely on an individual level. The expat has a standard development plan reviewed each year, including what the next job might be.”, said the vice president, HR department. Another notable example is from Adidas that would not guarantee quality assignments for returning employees. Nowadays, it has adopted the strategic approach and tries to make the most of global skills gained by expatriates.
It is obvious that the process of repatriation is not simple for the organization; there are tests at individual level and also at the organizational level. Sending an employee for international projects incur high costs to the company, which if not capitalized, aggravate the losses.
Successful management of repatriation process trickles down to increased business reputation, enhancement of intellectual and human capital, efficient utilization of skills, high loyalty, retention, and greater feelings of belongingness and cohesion among employees.
Organization must adopt a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the core issues of returning employees. Issues must be addressed not only from work perspective, but also from socio-cultural aspects and family adjustment. Researchers have opined that spouse adjustment is one of the main factors that influences the adjustment of the employee. The study conducted by Stroh and Gregersen( 1998) revealed that housing and financial conditions, social status, life quality in home country, cultural differences between host and home nations are some factors that affect spouse adjustment. Additionally, career prospects of the spouse after return may also support or disturb the process. Thus, organizations must resort to proper training and integration programs of the returning employees and their families so that they can adapt to the changed conditions.
Succinctly put, companies, still, impart less importance to the repatriation process that may prove detrimental for its long-term reputation and success. Successful return of employees and their retention in the organization affects the overall corporate culture of the company and no firm would like to lose its key employees, especially after they have acquired an international perspective and diverse skills.
The issue poses an international challenge for HR managers as they have less control over cultural settings of both nations. Imparting the proper training to employees during the transition and drafting motivating policies are some necessary steps to smoothen this procedure.
Last but not the least, there is the need for future research concerning the topic. It will assist scholars to unearth more factors that disturb the process and help companies take necessary steps.
Alsop, R. (2014, January 14). When Expats Return Home, What's Next. Retrieved January 6, 2014, from BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140115-returning-expat-discontent
Hurn, J. (1999). 'Repatriation- The Toughest Assignment of all'. Industrial and Commercial Training , 224-228.
Newton, S., & Hutchings, K. (2006). Repatriation in Australian Organizations: Why is it not considered critical to internationalization. Department of Management, Monash University.
Nikolaeva, T. G. (2010). The Challenges of Expatriation and Repatriation. Department of Management, Aarhus University.
Stroh, L., Gregersen, H., & Black, S. (1998). Closing the Gap: Expectations vs. Reality among Repatriates. Journal of World Business , 111-125.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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