Promoting international mobility by supporting the partners of expatriated employees understandably concentrates on the time the expat partner actually spends abroad. But, through talking to expat partners, we at Global Connection have established that, increasingly, many partners also worry about when they have to go back to their own country.

Return to work concerns
These concerns mainly have to do with their return to the labour market. “Will I be able to return to work in the present economic climate?” “What are my chances of continuing my career after having lived abroad for four years?” “Will employers in my home country still be interested in me?” These are the types of questions we hear with ever greater frequency.

Assignment refusal
Has the global mobility community underestimated the problems associated with expat partners returning to work? Not a lot of companies address this issue. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that partner concerns about the feasibility of returning to work after some years abroad might well be one of the reasons for international assignment refusal.

Extensive research
Global Connection has begun extensive research in order to provide more clarification in this area. Presently, we are conducting a survey amongst repatriated expat partners to get a better picture of the issues involved and, more importantly, to find ways of supporting expat partners in dealing with their return to work.

We are also investigating what impacts a career break could have on core competencies and how they can be (re)developed.

We’ll keep you posted!

Henk Dam
Research & Consultancy, Expat Partner Support
Global Connection