Expats: How to manage the return to your home country
If you’ve been working overseas as an expat for a few years, the return home may be an unexpected challenge. That said, going home can be a very positive experience if you follow these recommendations:
- Don’t rush to return before you’ve got the details of your contract clear.
- Explain your expectations and professional objectives to the company well in advance of your return.
- Consider prolonging your overseas stay if you can see long-term benefits.
- Research alternative positions in your home country, in case you find you aren’t happy with the conditions offered by your current employer when you get back home.
- Find out what subsidies or state-funded support may be available for returning workers, in case you lose your job.
If you are the HR manager responsible for overseeing returning expat workers, you need to bear in mind that if these employees aren’t given opportunities for professional development when they return, or if they don’t feel they have the chance to apply their newly aquired skills, the company stands a good chance of losing both the employees and the skillset they built overseas.
Many expats find that when they get back, they are expected to slot back into their former position, or even find they have lost some of their previous responsibilities. We might call this “Chinese vase syndrome;” the expat feels like an expensive piece of art that everyone admires, but nobody knows what to do with or how to make it fit in with the decor.
To avoid the economic, personnel and strategic costs of losing a returning expat employee, we recommend that employers:
- Define a career plan for each expat which takes into consideration what they will do when they get back, and includes performance evaluations during the overseas placement;
- Prepare for the return at least 6 months in advance;
- Design a reintegration program that takes into account the emotional and social adaption of both the expat and his or her family;
- Prepare a detailed job description of the role the expat can expect to take up on his or her return.
Legal Notice: Since legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing on this article should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel. The content on this article is offered only as information and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. You should always consult a suitably qualified lawyer regarding any specific legal problem or matter.
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