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Repatriation Planning Checklist

Repatriation presents one of the most complex sets of issues facing international human resources managers today. There are guidelines that corporations can follow to positively facilitate the process.

March 17, 2000
Related Topics: Expatriate Management, Repatriation
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Repatriation presents one of the most complex sets of issues facing international human resources managers today. Successful re-entry means that the employee reaps career and personal payoffs for the overseas experience, and that the company enriches its organization through the addition of the international competencies of its repatriated employees. Repatriation difficulties vary by company, by job type and by industry. High attrition rates at re-entry, poor integration of repatriated employees, lack of appropriate positions, downsized organizations and dissatisfied repatriated employees and families are some of the most frequently cited problems.

Although there's no easy, one-size-fits-all set of answers to the challenges of re-entry, there are guidelines that corporations can follow to positively facilitate the process. The following checklist targets: senior management involvement; expectation management; comprehensive career planning; selection and development processes that ensure that the expatriate acquires new capabilities; upgraded change management systems; and interventions to address the losses that repatriates experience.

Career Issues

Prior to departure
!
Involve international human resources at corporate strategic levels when planning for international activities

! Clearly establish the need for the international assignment with input from home and host locations

! Utilize research-based selection processes to make certain that the employee and family are suitable and able to succeed abroad

! Provide cross-cultural and language training to increase effectiveness and adaptation overseas

! Offer career spouse counseling and assistance during assignment

! Outline a clear job description for the expatriate's position

! Communicate realistic expectations about re-entry to employee at the time the position is offered

! Design career tracking and pathing systems that recognize and reward returning employees

! Establish expat developmental plans that include international competencies

! Link performance appraisals directly to developmental plans with home and host evaluators measuring performance

! Adapt performance appraisals to recognize the cultural demands of the assignment

! Feed performance appraisals into a larger internal human resource communication vehicle

! Appoint home and host mentors who are held accountable to track and support the employee during the assignment, and to identify potential positions at re-entry

! Send job postings to the expatriate while abroad

! Prior to return (one year to six months) arrange a networking visit to home office to establish viability with line and human resources managers

! Repeat networking visit three months prior to return if necessary

! Assist employee with polishing resume writing and interviewing skills

! Circulate resume to all potential hiring units

! Establish fallback position if no job is available

! Arrange for employee to maintain visibility through regular business trips home and through contact with visiting home-country personnel

! Create communication links to employee via E-mail, newsletters, copies of important memos and relevant publications

! Enable family members to stay in touch with changes at home through news publications

! Encourage employee and family to return home for home leave.

At Re-entry
!
Arrange an event to welcome and recognize the employee and family, either formally or informally

! Establish support to facilitate family reintegration

! Offer repatriation counseling or workshops to ease adjustment

! Assist spouse with job counseling, resume writing and interviewing techniques

! Provide educational counseling for kids

! Provide employee with a thorough debriefing with a facilitator to identify new knowledge, insights and skills, forums to showcase new competencies, and activities that utilize competencies

! Offer international outplacement to employee and re-entry counseling to entire family if no positions are possible

! Arrange a post-assignment interview with expatriate and spouse to review their view of the assignment and address any repatriation issues.

Financial Planning and Related Activities
!
Coordinate with home and host offices prior to repatriation to identify repatriation date

! Run cost projection with anticipated repatriation date to determine the most cost-effective time frame for departure

! Arrange pre-repatriation home country house hunting/school enrollment trip to allow for re-occupying/securing home country housing and registering dependent children for school.

! Arrange for shipment of personal goods.

! Identify dates for temporary living in home and host countries.

! Arrange tax exit interview for employee with tax service provider to determine need for tax clearance/final host country tax return to leave the country.

! Provide tax service provider with year-to-date compensation data for tax clearance/return processing.

! Process any relocation payment.

! Process return incentive payment.

! Process payroll documents to remove employee from expatriate status and review need for actual withholding payments for remainder of year with tax service provider.

! Provide HR generalist in new location with necessary personnel files.

 

SOURCE: Bennett & Associates and Price Waterhouse LLP

Personnel Journal, January 1995, Vol. 74, No. 1, p. 32.

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