Return of the Expat

Expatriate families usually move in summer. They even sometimes come back home! Companies do not pay the same attention to the end of the expatriation, compared to a departure abroad. This is just acknowledging the facts, especially when listening to expats. The company changed, organizations are different, former experiences do not interest new colleagues.

Coming back home should be anticipated. If the end of the professional contract is the first cause of the end of expatriation, in 60% of the situations, there is another reason: the initiative of the company, of the family, choosing to come back for various reasons, the initiative of the employed expatriate accepting another opportunity, and unfortunately the decision is caused by a divorce, sickness or even death. The graph on the right summarizes the answers of expats’ partners given in the 2015 Alceis Survey.

Honey, we forgot the kids!

Ancient Greeks knew it: one never bathes twice in the same water. In their home country, the family will have to deal with a new professional and personal situation, probably see their life standard changing, catch up with their relatives and friends who do not understand that coming back home can be a source of grief. On the professional point of view, the experience of an expatriation is not valorized as expected: this is true for the employed expatriate, and moreover for the partner wishing to find a job.

The partner has resources to find a new balance: a career coaching helps evaluating acquired skills, and elaborating a new professional project. However, we strongly recommend to any person to plan the come back when they are sent abroad (even though they have so many other things bothering them!). The employed expatriate faces another challenge: understanding his/her company (and its evolution while he/she was abroad). Companies seem to be increasingly aware of the importance of the return. A number of expatriate now negotiate the end of their expatriation, and the possible assistance they could receive, at their departure. Assistance still remains unusual: less than 50% of the partners declare benefiting from assistance.

Assistance to expatriates back home (Alceis Suvey 2015)

  • Administrative assistance and relocation
  • Re-integration in personal and professional spheres
  • And/or assistance to employability/job research

Then come the children. They sometimes spend their life in various countries, but not in their parents’ home country. They speak two languages or more: this should be praised. As bilingual schools have more applicants than availabilities, it is essential to apply as from January or February. Children and teenagers will have to get used to a new life, to a different curriculum, to learn staying in touch with their old friends and making new friends.

A coaching helps preparing oneself and reacting to the difficulties of the end of an expatriation, and favorises a better integration or professional re-orientation. A “back from expatriation” package also shows that the company acknowledges the return shock.