Cultural diversity in the organization – extra trouble or extra benefit?
Can cultural diversity in an organization be a benefit to employees? Or on the contrary – generates problems and hinders everyday work? More and more contemporary publications on running a business or HR, deal with the topic of multiculturalism in organizations, related challenges and proven management methods. There is a reason, because many companies in Poland employ newcomers from abroad today! Interestingly – this is not a new fashion, but a trend that is already several dozen years old. And it is growing rapidly, which is why it is worth being prepared and transforming the phenomenon of diversity from an organizational problem into a perfect and multidimensional benefit for employees.
Work abroad – a privilege of our time
The Royal Society in London, in the 1960s for the first time described the phenomenon of outflow of workers abroad by the term brain drain. It was used to refer to young and educated Britons leaving for work in North America. This phenomenon, which was initially noticeable only in a few countries, has especially gained in importance over the past fifteen years. It is primarily favored by open borders in many European countries and technological development. This allows you to plan your trip and travel to the other end of the world literally at any time, while maintaining constant contact with loved ones staying in your hometown.
Migrations caused by the desire to develop, change jobs or the need to raise earnings, we see today not only in the case of the best-educated graduates of prestigious universities. More and more young people go abroad during their studies to study or work, while developing language skills and gaining valuable experience. Such trips are very popular and are becoming more and more available, which is why many of the outgoing students do not end up on one scholarship. Familiar with living outside their home country, they also seek professional challenges abroad, often without becoming attached to one place for more than 2 years. Among the reasons for this change, they indicate a desire to get to know more cultures, people and countries, but also a change in working conditions – the position held, remuneration or the standard of employee benefits.
Employee management from around the world
One of the consequences of these phenomena are multicultural organizations. While seemingly they do not stand out with anything other than the official language of communication, in practice managing an international team turns out to be much more difficult than when dealing with people of similar origin. Scientists dealing with the subject of multiculturalism distinguish 3 views or methods of work that are used by the managers of an international organization. In addition to cultural domination and coexistence, intercultural cooperation is the most effective method. It assumes the balance, penetration and complementarity of cultures, and as a consequence brings the organization unique values and benefits for all its members.
The basis for managing such an organization should be an understanding of diversity and care for a single employee – his or her needs, but also beliefs and traditions that they brought from their homeland. At the same time, one should not forget about the support that foreigners need to adapt and acclimatize in a new place. People coming from different parts of the world and counted on working with international company are characterized by very openness and flexibility. Not being “from here”, they are aware of the diversity of cultures and customs and are very good at finding themselves in new situations. Good management of such teams can make multiculturalism a huge asset, which in itself will be a benefit to employees. However, it requires at least a few basic actions:
Employer care and support
Companies that decide to employ employees from abroad should pay special attention to the organization of the first weeks of life and work of their new people. Help in finding and renting an apartment, as well as tips for traveling around the city, not only on the work-home section, will be invaluable support. Within the organization itself, it is important to ensure that the employee knows the team well, understands the company’s rules, knows their rights and obligations, the date and method of payment of remuneration, and the scope of benefits offered and how to implement them. Many corporations additionally decide to appoint a guardian to whom the employee can report with any question or request.
Basic needs are the most important
What seems banal to us, in fact the first days in a new place can be very embarrassing! One such issue is food … We all like and must eat, but our eating habits can be just as different as the color of the skin or eyes. Let’s make sure that even a foreign employee who joined our organization knows where to find a safe restaurant, what to order and what to avoid. There is nothing worse than a bad mood or illness in the first days in a new place…
When the emotions subside and foreign workers get used to work and a previously unknown place, they may begin to feel homesickness or disappointment that work at the end of the world is not much different from that at home. In such a situation, the level of commitment and motivation to act can decrease drastically. That is why employees should be protected from boredom and discouragement in advance. This can be done using a cultural melting pot, which naturally arose in the company, e.g. by organizing internal events that are a great opportunity to learn about other cultures – dishes, costumes, stories or traditions of employees from foreign countries … Discovering local flavors or traditions is not just great fun, but also to spread knowledge and a great way to integrate the team, which is a perfect benefit! After all, each of us likes to talk about what our hometown is famous for and share the recipe for the world’s best dumplings or grandmother’s pie.
Man is always in the center
Regardless of how many different nationalities or cultures pass through our office, the most important is always … a single person. His or her needs, well-being and comfort of life and work. By creating ideal conditions for action for people from around the world, we can create an organization that will be a friendly and appreciated place in every corner of the Earth.