Before we discuss repatriation, it’s worth examining the topic of expatriates and expatriation in general.
Expatriates are people with exceptional talents whom their employers ask to go and work in another country with the expectation of returning home after some time. Repatriates refer to expatriates who return to their home countries. In layman’s terms, a person is an expatriate if he or she leaves their country for work, and he or she becomes a repatriate when they return to their country.
Repatriates and expatriates are the main reasons behind the success of any global mobile workforce. They are highly skilled individuals who should be treasured for their skills and knowledge. This combined with the sacrifices they are willing to make for their employers makes them an invaluable asset to a company.
In this article, we will shed light on the obstacles faced by repatriates and expatriates and the sacrifices they have to make. Afterwards, we will explain how their employers can assist in making their transition from country to country easier.
Sacrifices made by repatriates
As you can imagine being an expatriate is not an easy job. It is mentally and emotionally taxing on both the expatriate and his family. It requires you to leave your home and your whole life, which you built for yourself and start from scratch in a place you know nothing about. According to some research, this change is even harder on the expatriate’s family than on the expatriate itself.
However, what is harder to believe is that repatriation is considered the most challenging phase of an expatriate experience. There is a myriad of reasons which have led to this conclusion.
The first and maybe the most significant reason is perhaps the expatriate’s unrealistic expectations of what life in his home country is like. As soon as an expatriate returns, all of these expectations shatter into pieces. These shattered expectations combined with social readjustment, which is needed as relationships with friends and family change, leads the expatriate to enter a phase of isolation and depression.
Another reason why readjustment is so hard for repatriates is the change in their work environment. Their position in the company and the people they used to work with will have changed by the time they return from their assignment. What is more, their colleagues who have no idea of the sacrifices they made will often try to devalue their experience and role as an expatriate.
These are just some of the many obstacles faced during repatriation by expatriates. Because of these problems, repatriates decide to leave their employers or sometimes even their countries.
It goes without saying that expatriates and repatriates are highly talented people and extremely hard to come across. For this very reason, their employers and their countries try their very best to make repatriation as easy as possible so that they can retain this talent, which is extremely hard to come across. This is why special programs have been created for the singular purpose of helping expatriates and repatriates with their complex and unique needs.
As mentioned above, repatriates deal with many problems when returning to their home countries. For this reason, there are several tactics for managing repatriates employed by companies that help make their transition and readjustment to their country easier.
The first and foremost is the formation of dedicated teams and programs whose singular purpose is the management of expatriates and repatriates, as well as help look after their emotional and physical well being.
The second strategy that I would like to talk about is keeping a tab of all of the significant changes that have occurred since the repatriate left for their assignment. By doing this, they can prepare the repatriate for their return by informing them in advance of significant changes so that they are mentally prepared beforehand.
Another vital thing to do is to formalize the repatriation Assistance programs that have been put in place, organize welcome parties at the workplace and at home, and support them with logistical arrangements. By doing so, we show the repatriate appreciation for their work as well as make the repatriate look forward to his/her return.
Thirdly, the experience of current repatriates should be used to train and mentor a new team of expatriates and help improve and develop new strategies that could help with repatriation and expatriation.
Lastly, the re-integration of repatriates should be observed very closely to ensure they encounter no problems and also help them if they do.
Many of you may have heard of medical evacuation (medevac). For those of you who have not, this refers to the process of transporting a patient to a specialist medical facility when the proper means to treat the patient are not available locally. Medical repatriation can be considered to be an advanced form of medevac. Medical repatriation is the process of transporting expatriates back to their home countries when they get injured or they cannot receive the care they need locally.
As you can imagine, medical repatriation comes with its own set of challenges, and many companies have been founded for the specific purpose of medical repatriation making this process as easy as possible.
One of the most significant problems is the language barrier. A difference in language between the expatriate and the healthcare staff leads to a significant drop in healthcare quality. This is why companies that assist with medical repatriation hire members fluent in many languages.
Before patients are taken back to their countries, they must also be stable enough for flight. Therefore, patient records are analyzed, and a pre-flight medical evaluation is carried out to ensure that the patient is medically fit to fly.
Furthermore, for a patient who requires intensive care, unique air and ground ambulances come fitted with all the technology and equipment deemed necessary depending on the patient’s condition. Extra steps such as flying at higher altitudes to reduce turbulence and reducing cabin pressure are also taken to ensure the repatriation goes smoothly.
These are just some methods employed to make sure the readjustment into their personal and work lives happens as smoothly as possible for both expatriates and repatriates.