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Strategies to Retain Employees Post-Assignment

5 min read
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Businesses across all industries are facing mounting pressure to focus on talent retention as labor and skills shortages persist. Employers who leverage international assignments may see an increase in employee retention, as many employees view international assignments as a great opportunity to increase their skills, broaden their horizons and grow their careers. However, reality kicks in upon repatriation, and employees often report low satisfaction upon returning to their home country.

As the competition for talent intensifies, businesses who implement a global mobility program must learn and improve existing strategies that will help retain talent not only while they are on assignment, but also after repatriation. Considering the immense costs incurred from an assignment, it should be a top priority to fulfill any organization’s original ROI and overall talent goals.

With that in mind, let’s explore a few strategies to help enhance your repatriation policies to retain the valued employees you have.

Reskill Repatriates

Employees in the repatriation process can experience difficulty understanding how their new skills and knowledge will transfer to roles back home. You can support employees seeking new career opportunities by cultivating a culture of continuous learning through reskilling.

The process of reskilling helps employees develop new skills that can be applied to different positions within your organization. Reskilled repatriates are likely to remain motivated, engaged, and loyal to your organization, ultimately helping you reduce costs and save time by retaining valuable expertise you’ve already invested in. Having reskilled repatriates who can rotate into different functional areas or serve as trainers for future expatriates can also elevate your organization and prevent internal skill gaps.

Giving your repatriated employees the opportunity to utilize the knowledge and skills they picked up during their assignment provides them with a purpose and a chance to feel like their assignment was truly beneficial for both them and the company. The last thing an employee wants to feel is that the years they spent away from colleagues, friends, extended family, and all that is familiar was for nothing.

Post-assignment Career Advancement

Creating an infrastructure to facilitate the search for new opportunities within your organization is another strategy that will help retain repatriated employees. Whether it’s short-term skills to master or potential roles employees can grow into, creating career paths for repatriates can lead to higher employee satisfaction.

Discussing long-term career goals and conducting post-assignment career planning during offboarding can help employees understand their current skill set, knowledge gaps, strengths, and areas for improvement. This information can serve as the foundation for an employee’s career path and help you determine the best path to help them reach their goals. From there, give employees the resources needed to support their progress and be transparent about potential growth opportunities within your organization. Showing participants that the company is committed to their professional development, even after their assignment is over, sets the stage for retaining returned employees.

Transition Support

Preparing employees for a smooth transition is a strategy that works both ways. Returning home can be just as challenging for repatriates and their families as when they entered their host country. It’s quite common for repatriates to experience readjustment issues such as culture shock and disconnect, along with a mixture of emotions ranging from host country “separation anxiety” and sadness to overwhelming excitement. Ensuring your repatriates feel connected, valued, and supported during their departure can help ease the difficulties with their transition.

Your repatriation program should include accommodation to help repatriates acclimate to their “new” home. This might involve providing transition counseling to counter culture shock, connecting repatriates with mentors and other repatriated employees, and continued logistical support to help repatriates overcome transition hurdles. Bear in mind that repatriation transition support isn’t only for returning employees but should be extended to their families as well. Focusing on daily living practicalities like driving or language lessons can help families adapt to their new lifestyle and settle back home more comfortably.

Above all, open communication with your repatriated employee is crucial. Whether they need time off to adjust back to their home country or they would rather stay busy and engaged in work while they reacclimate, communicating what their specific wants and needs are is imperative if you want your employee to continue to grow individually and within your organization.

Conclusion: The Ineo Advantage

As with preparing employees for departure on an international assignment, the return is a critical part of the assignment for expats and the companies that employ them. Developing a comprehensive repatriation program is a powerful retention tool that can prepare for global success and increase the odds that your returned talent will still want to actively remain part of the company, and even another assignment.

As global mobility experts, we understand the challenges facing a company who embraces global mobility and their expats/repatriates. Contact us to learn how The Ineo Platform  can give you the tools, knowledge, and space to  build a better global mobility repatriation program that can retain your returned talent.

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