From the Desk of the President

Giving Expatriates the Best Shot at Success

By Neal Goodman, PhD

Multinational companies invest approximately $2 million per expatriate and lose an average of 40 percent of their expatriates after just two years of the return from their assignments.

For companies making this investment, there is a series of actions that would greatly improve the chance of success for their expatriates' assignment and longer-term employment with the company 

 To Do:

  • Use employees who have cross-cultural experiences to help identify the company’s cross-cultural training needs and issues.
  • Require cross-cultural training for all expatriate assignees and their families.
  • Provide immersion language training in-country. (One major company now requires a mandatory five-week pre-departure culture and language immersion program.)
  • Begin preparing expatriates for their repatriation before they leave.
  • Integrate Web-based information into training, but do not use these materials as a substitute for training since they cannot address the unique circumstances facing each family.
  • Keep expatriates in contact with those at headquarters.
  • Capture the learnings of expatriates in quarterly interviews. Post key learnings on the company’s intranet.
  • Prepare a comprehensive succession plan for all expatriates, and review these with each expatriate every six months.
  • Provide repatriation training for the employee and family to assure a smooth reintegration to home and the workplace.
Neal Goodman is the president of Global Dynamics Inc.