With global business expanding, companies need to employ the best-experienced internationally-aware talent. These are typically more senior roles and employees who are greatly valued. For international assignments, it’s important that these employees settle into their new surroundings easily in order for them to perform their duties up to their maximum potential.
Cultural assimilation can play a great role in helping these expats adapt to their new circumstances. It is important for international employees to understand the foreign culture and ways of the host country. The better they assimilate, and the sooner they pass through a “culture shock” phase, the better they can be in their new role.
This period is vital because it often determines whether or not the employee will feel comfortable enough to stay or instead want to give up and move back to the home.
Here are some steps to support the expat:
Companies should sensitize their employees with training as soon as they are given their new role. This includes an introduction to the new culture. Information should be relevant and detailed so the employee can understand the situation in the host country. Include insight into language, climate, traditions, lifestyle, and security. This training will help him, or her prepare mentally.
It is also very important to explain the prevailing social norms, specifically: acceptable dress code, business etiquette, and public behavior.
Festivals and celebrations
Whether it’s Carnival in Brazil, Christmas in Germany or Diwali in India, festivals, and celebrations are an integral part of a nation’s culture. These offer an opportunity for organizations to help their expat employees understand and participate in the host country’s festivals. This will help them better understand the culture. Provide information about how to participate, along with their local colleagues.
Clubs and communities
Outside the workplace, it is helpful for expats (and their family members) to meet other expats. Having the opportunity to share their experiences allows them to support each other through the cultural assimilation phase in the new country. Companies can provide information on local organizations where they can meet others and socialize.
It is well documented that family members of international employees often have a more difficult time adjusting to the host country. This is usually due to language and culture differences. While their working spouse may have all the skills to adapt well to the country, they may not. Companies can help in the effort by providing advice and assistance in finding and securing school admission and provide insight for hobbies and playtime. Also give the spouses information on clubs, organizations or language classes as necessary. When the family is happy, they can better support the employee and adjust to the move.