step by step - expatriation
Following the career of the expatriate is essential to avoid the difficulties when changing job responsibilities, changing assignment or upon the return of the expatriate in his home country.
The complexity in following the career of expatriates is due to the fact, in our opinion, that numerous parties need to be involved such as the Human resources, management as well as the expatriate himself.
Following the career of the expatriate is essential for the Human resources because it will help avoid mistakes when bringing the employee back in the firm’s home structure. It will also allow management to value the international experience of its employees.
For this reason, Human resources in the home country should remain constantly in touch with the host company and keeping in touch regularly with the expatriates is a must.
However, communication should not be the sole responsibility of Human Resources and management. The employee has to play its part. The employee must stay in contact with his home colleagues, while expanding his contact list, therefore helping his future return in the home country.
The Human resources, as well as management, need to be sure that the expatriate is rapidly integrated in the host firm. They must provide the employee will all the tools necessary for him to fulfill the employer’s expectations during this assignment.
It must be remembered that moving from one apartment to another can be stressful even if it is a move in the neighborhood. It can generate tension in a couple and will require adjustments in your daily life. An expatriation multiplies all these consequences many fold. Do not forget the situation in which the employee is in. He is being asked to be operational as quickly as possible in a new job abroad, even though his children may still be on the plane and his furniture have not yet crossed the customs.
Human resources and management’s support will be key during this first year. Following the employee’s career should be done by having regular conversations with the expatriate. Reports should be written monthly or bi-monthly by human resources or management. This will allow all parties to hold a meeting at the end of the first year with the employee to discuss the assignment, the improvements made and to be made in the future.
Finally, it is very important for the expatriate to feel comfortable with the human resources. It will allow him to inform human resources quickly of any difficulties he encounters during his assignment.
On-assignment, the main danger is that the employee feels isolated and separated from his home employer and his initial contacts.
We have three tools that can be used to avoid this :
- The content of the annual meeting, held by local management, must be shared with the host and home human resources.
- Upon the business review of its employees potential, it is necessary to review the expatriate population to detect their potential and their aspirations.
- During his annual trip back home, have the employee meet with the home human resources’ staff allowing him to discuss directly with them his ambitions, the difficulties met and his impressions. It will allow the employee to maintain a contact with the home employer.
All these will allow the home company to prepare itself for the employee’s return and help the human resources and management decide of new goals for the employee.
We believe that preparing correctly the return home means starting to work on it six months to a year before the actual date. Deciding on the actual date of return will request to look at the positions available but also at the family obligations of the expatriate (i.e. school year, end of the lease, etc).
Then, depending on the aspirations of the employee and his potential, meetings will have to be held with the human resources and management to decide on the propositions that can be offered to the employee. However, the employee must fully implicate himself in this process.
An experience abroad is a unique experience and it will often be hard for the employee to find the autonomy and freedom he had during his assignment. Therefore, the human resources will have to determine the true potential of the employee. What are the employee’s technical and managerial skills? What are his abilities to adapt to a new job? Each employee will be different and the success of an employee’s return home will result in a combined effort of all parties.