Big businesses fail to make the most of employees with foreign experience

6. November 2015

Date: 05-11-2015
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Subject: Not-so-happy returns

COMPANIES devote a lot of thought to sending people abroad. They offer foreign postings to their most promising employees. They sweeten the deal with higher salaries and big allowances, and sometimes help to find work for spouses. But when it comes to bringing the employees home, it is a different story. One study suggests that a quarter of firms provide no help for repatriates at all. Many others offer at best a few links to websites.

Big companies are more globalised than ever. So you might think that they would treat staff with foreign experience as particularly important for maintaining their competitive advantage. Yet in practice they neglect such employees, blithely assuming they will soon be back in the swing of head-office life. The cost of this neglect is high. Sebastian Reiche of IESE business school in Spain estimates that anything between 10% and 60% of “repats” quit the company within a couple of years of returning home. Their attrition rate is notably higher than for those not sent abroad. Read the rest of this entry »