Repatriation Advice: 10 Tips for Handling Reverse Culture Shock from Elizabeth Vennekens-Kelly

Subtle DifferencesRepatriating can be as difficult as moving to a foreign country in the first place. Adults feel the very real pangs of saying good-bye to their exotic adventure. Children face the loss of, well, everything they know. For everyone, there is the job of beginning again. But life has many chapters, and these tips can help you make “back home” feel like home again.


Elizabeth Vennekens-Kelly is an intercultural trainer, consultant, and the author of Subtle Differences, Big Faux Pas.

Cultural awareness is no longer enough

Leading Across Borders (186 x 300)Evan Kuo is the Country Director for a large Taiwanese tech firm’s new development office in Bangalore, India. The Bangalore site has been running for merely a year but Kuo has already hired more than one hundred engineers, with ambitious expansion plans for the year ahead. The company is relatively small compared with their main competitors and much of its new staff left well-established Western multinationals to joinbecause of the firm’s nimble, “start-up” reputation. But only one year into the new venture and the first question Kuo asks his Bangalore HR head when he walks in the door is, “Alwyn, tell me honestly, do we have a retention risk?” Alwyn looks uncomfortable. Kuo has learned enough from working in India to take this as a yes.


The repatriation dilemma

Leading Across Borders (186 x 300)More and more people are globally mobile, moving from their home country to other international locations to support global business needs. Sadly, few companies take advantage of the vast knowledge that these roving managers gain of different markets, ideas for inventing or enhancing products and services, and strengthened human networks across functions and geographies. Also, few companies seem to realize that repatriation “shock” is often a more difficult transition than the culture shock expatriates experience when going abroad. According to Brookfield’s 2015 Global Mobility Report, only 5% of companies measure the ROI of international assignments at all. Even though the business case for having a strong “Repatriation Process” is easy to make, only a handful of companies actually have one.