It’s always nice to know there is someone new on the way. It’s fresh, exciting, and stressful. No, I’m not talking about babies, but a new employee.
We all know how much time, energy and money companies can place in ensuring a new member of staff is found that can do the job. And I’m sure we have also all had experience employing or working with someone who, for whatever reason, left almost as soon as they arrived.
It may be that on paper, your new employee is golden. Absolutely capable of doing the job and is making you money. But they already want to leave. Their reason: They don’t feel at home. In order to take this job, they’ve moved to a different country, which speaks in a different language and even eats dinner at a different time. Their emails are “unclear”, they’re constantly being told to repeat what they’ve said and to top it off, they’ve upset a colleague and they have no idea why. They’re lost, confused and stressed.
It can be completely overwhelming.
As an employer, your first thought might be, “I need to ensure our new employee receives support in learning the local language” and you’ll work towards setting them up on a course. This will, in time, help massively – breaking the language barrier will ensure clearer communications, a reduction in errors and a more cohesive team. You may also extend this to their family members, to assist them in fitting in at school, or going about their general day-to-day tasks.
But what about the cultural implications? Would your new employee know that during a meeting, new ideas may take longer to discuss before reaching the approval stage? Or that there is a hierarchy system that must be adhered to? That “Yes” could mean “Maybe” or even “No?” That during meals, it’s preferable (not) to burp/leave cutlery open on the plate or not use their left hand?
If your new employee isn’t aware of the “usual way of doing things around here”, it can cause embarrassment, feelings of exclusion, low morale for the and the team and leave them wondering if they’ve made the right decision in working for you. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that as an employer, enough preparation and thought is given to ensuring your recruit feels at home – both in and out of the workplace.
Language isn’t the only way in which we communicate.
Understanding a new language and culture isn’t something that can be learned in a day. It requires patience and the understanding that errors will be made, but they will be learned from. If you know you have the right person for the job, start your preparations early and talk to them:
- Have they relocated before? Are they bringing their spouse / family members?
- How do they feel their language skills are? Are they (or you) aware of any areas of weakness?
- What do they already know about the culture of the country they are moving to?
- Would they feel less anxious if support was given in the form of language and cultural training?
Preparation is key to success.
Post-pandemic, more and more people are working from home or adapting to a hybrid working style. The benefits of this, from a recruitment perspective, have removed somewhat the location barrier and so your new team could consist of those based anywhere within the UK – and beyond – meeting up in person only every now and again. This new way of working has highlighted more than ever the importance of communication – clarity in emails and on phone calls is vital and on a video call, it’s not always so easy to see and interpret body language, that would usually be picked up on if you were in an office together.
So, if you have a new member of staff who doesn’t use English as their first language, and does not yet have the experience in understanding UK business culture, think about how you can support them further. By investing that little extra time, money and energy into their individual needs, you could be rewarded with a dedicated, long-term member of staff, who is a clear communicator, and effective team member and (unfortunately for them) understands the poor office Dad-jokes and will roll their eyes with the rest of us.
Training isn’t always just about being shown how to use a piece of software. It’s about how to feel at home.