Orange-Line

How to Welcome a Returning Expatriate

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Author: Salvatore Corradi – FM Chairman

If the remote management of a Global Manager requires a series of precautions (cf. “The Figure of the Expat: the Manager Who keeps his Bags Packed”), the same thing goes for the return home of an employee.

After months or years of work abroad, the international mission of a Global Manager draws to a close, bringing with it a series of consequences that cannot be underestimated. Those who return to their hometown experience very often a sort of culture shock, a feeling that is almost reminiscent of mourning. After a first moment of extreme euphoria linked to the thought of the emotional reunion with their loved ones, they suddenly move on to the awareness of what they have left behind. In fact, Expats have been in contact for a long time with individuals from a foreign country with whom they have established ties not only of a work, but also of personal nature. There are reports of people who have experienced irritability, a feeling of choking or even signs of depression.

In the eyes of the most skeptics, these “side effects” may seem excessive, however the truth is that these are very common reactions that require the support of both family members and the aid of the company. In the field of Human Resources, for example, the best way to welcome a colleague back would be to find effective coordination between the foreign and national HR departments even before departure, so that upon return, the management of the employee and his career won’t be interrupted. From a chronological point of view, HR managers should plan the measures to enact by dividing them into three categories: those to be implemented before the actual expatriation, those to be implemented during expatriation and, finally, those operations to be carried out at the exact moment of return.

The leaders who work in the headquarters play a very delicate role in these situations; in fact, they must be able to meet deadlines of the manager who has just returned without forcefully imposing a less hostile environment, thus avoiding favoritism that would cause unpleasant reactions in the other employees. In fact, it cannot be expected that the expatriate will immediately regain possession of old habits or the mother tongue.

It is also extremely important that companies do not waste the advantage that the return of an Expat could constitute. At the end of an international experience, the employee should be framed in a long-term career plan, giving a concrete demonstration of how the assignment just ended has positive repercussions on his career. If this does not happen, the company would risk destroying the opportunity to improve its dynamism, resulting in the eyes of customers and competitors as not very concrete in facing challenges in global markets.

Returnees therefore need reorientation programs, in order to be updated on current company policies and any news. The relocated person should not feel like an outcast in the workplace, he should instead be welcomed peacefully into the company staff.