One of the most confounding and worrisome facts about sending employees abroad is that 40% to 60% of them will probably quit within three years of returning home. One study suggests that a three year assignment abroad for one employee with a base salary of about $100,000 costs the employer $1 million once extra living costs transportation and family benefits are included. Given the investment the employer makes in training and sending these often high potential people abroad, it obviously makes sense to do everything possible to make sure them with the firm. For this formal repatriation programs can be quite useful. One study found that about 5% of returning employees resigned if their firms had formal repatriation programs while about 22% of those left if their firms had no such programs.

The heart of a guiding principle for any repatriation program is this: make sure that the expatriate and his or her family don’t feel that the company has left them adrift. For example AT&T has an effective three part repatriation program one that actually starts before the employee leaves for the assignment abroad. First AT&T matches the expat and his or her family with psychologists trained in repatriation issues. The psychologists meet with the family before they go abroad. The psychologists discusses the challenges they will face abroad, assesses with them how well he or she think they will adapt to their new culture and stays in touch with them throughout their assignment. Other firms, like Dow, also provide written repatriation agreements. These guarantee in writing that the company won’t keep the expat abroad for more than some period, such as three years, and that on return he or she will receive a mutually acceptable job.

Second AT&T makes sure that the employees always feels that he or she is still in the top with what’s happening back at the home office. For example, AT&T assigns the expat a mentor and brings the expat back to the home office periodically for meetings and to socialize with his or her colleagues.

Third, once it’s time for the expat employee and his or her family to return home, AT&T provides formal repatriation services. About six months before the overseas assignments ends, the psychologist and HR representatives meet with the expat and the family, to start preparing them for the return. For example the help plan the employer’s next career move, help the person update his or her resume and begin putting the person in contact with supervisors back home. They work with the person’s family on the logistics of the move back home. Then, about a month after returning home, the expat and family attend a welcome home seminar where they discuss matters like the stress of repatriation.

Improving Productivity through HRIS:

Taking the HRIS Global:

As a company grows relying on manual HR systems to manage activities like worldwide safety, benefits, administration, payroll and succession planning becomes unwieldy. As we’ve seen, more firms are therefore automating and integrating their HR system into human resources information systems (HRIS).

For global firm it makes particular sense to expand the firm’s human resource information systems to include the firm’s operations abroad. For example electrical components manufacturer Thomas & Betts once needed 83 faxes to get a head count of its 26,000 employees in 24 countries, it can now do so with the push of button, thanks to its global HRIS system. Most global HRIS uses are more sophisticated. Without a database of a firm’s worldwide management talent, for instance selecting employees for assignments abroad and keeping track of each unit’s compensation plans, benefits, and personnel practices and policies can be overwhelming.