Repatriation strategies are an essential element of mobility programs

Successfully bringing employees home after extended overseas assignments involves taking care of both their logistical needs (departure and destination services) and their personal and professional reorientation to home country conditions. This reorientation element no doubt is the more sensitive area.

It’s critical that managers foster an ongoing dialogue with assignees throughout the assignment period regarding their long-term career track and their next (home) assignments. This best practice can head off an employee’s concern that he or she is “out-of-sight, out-of-mind,” which can put their long-term retention at risk.

Following are some additional steps to take—for both the employer and the assignee—that can ease the stress involved in the ultimate repatriation.

 

Home country activity

Ongoing throughout the assignment:

  • Home and host country managers should jointly conduct performance reviews
  • If a mentor program is in place, ensure there is active engagement throughout the assignment
  • Human Resource or mobility managers should conduct quarterly employee check-ins
  • Maintain contact with corporate tax consultant to monitor withholdings, deadlines, and filing dates

Six months before the repatriation date:

  • Confirm details of employee’s next (home) assignment
  • Coordinate interviews for that slot if necessary

Three months before the repatriation date:

  • Determine the most tax-efficient way to handle any equity compensation and/or bonuses
  • Coordinate a home-finding trip if the employee did not maintain a primary residence during the assignment
  • Initiate intra-country relocation policy benefits for home purchase or rental assistance

During repatriation:

  • Discontinue allowances such as housing, COLA, transportation, tuition assistance, hardship, etc.
  • Re-enroll the employee in the home country health benefit plan if it was not maintained during the assignment
  • Re-enroll the employee in the home country retirement plan if it was not maintained during the assignment
  • Discontinue property management assistance if it was provided during the assignment
  • Notify tax partner of the repatriation date and schedule/coordinate a repatriation tax consultation session
  • Offer repatriation counseling if appropriate
  • Arrange for delivery of any stored or shipped household goods
  • Ensure repatriation costs are allocated to the proper home and/or host entity

 

Host country activity

Ongoing throughout the assignment:

  • Home and host country managers should jointly conduct performance reviews
  • Conduct regular check-ins with the employee and his or her family

One month before repatriation date

  • Engage the local destination services partner to assist with housing closeout and the recovery of deposits that were paid
  • Ensure all paperwork is in order related to visas, work permits, etc.
  • Arrange for the shipment of household goods
  • Ensure that the employee arranges for the disposal or sale of personal items that will not be shipped home
  • The host country Human Resource office should conduct all necessary internal exit transition procedures

Key Takeaways:

  • Repatriation should be an ongoing focus throughout the assignment period
  • Following best practices to address the emotional and logistical aspects of repatriation helps promote employee retention
  • A well-defined repatriation process with activity deadlines can help minimize stress and uncertainty during the transition