At Global Connection we have found many partners of expatriated employees express concern about reentering the workforce after repatriation. Currently we are studying a number of ways to best support these partners. As mentioned in the previous blog, we are conducting surveys that will offer good insights. Meanwhile we are also looking at other ways to offer our support.

Does inactivity diminish competencies?
We hope to assist expat partners by taking a closer look at what competencies are needed to succeed in the workplace and how a period of inactivity affects a person’s work competencies. For instance, when you have not been in a paid job for a period of three or four years, will you gradually lose the competencies that you once had? If so, what is the most effective way we can recover them?

Motivation key to recovery
Seeking advice, we turned to Hennie Caarels, a senior advisor at GITP, an organisation based in Holland that specializes in assessments and development. In general, he says, competencies you once had can weaken when you don’t use them for a long period of time. “But you can develop them again when you are motivated, are able to learn and when the context is right,” says Caarels.

Back in the saddle
Some competencies are easier to develop, others less so. You can, for instance, work on communication, planning, organising and cooperation. But it’s more difficult when it comes to ambition, empathy or independence. “When you want to learn something, educators say a combination of study, coaching/training and, particularly, doing the job works best,” adds Caarels.

Returnships: an alternative solution?
Of course, that final part is hard to achieve when you have not even found a job yet. Are there other solutions? Many expat partners try to find voluntary work that utilizes competencies they will need when they return to paid work. Perhaps “returnships” (a term trademarked by Goldman Sachs), where those returning to work initially do projects on a short-term contract basis before they and their company take the plunge, could be one of the solutions.