If you are employed by a global company and even more so if you live in a very international city, you will work in diverse teams. That’s a fact. For some it might be easier than others and that’s where articles like this can be helpful. If you are in a situation where a new expat member joins your team and not quite sure how it’s gonna go or how you can help them adjust to the new environment quickly, the below five actionable tips are for you.
Short, concise and actionable right away. Here we go!
Tip 1: Prepare a training plan
Some people think that it’s up to the managers to take care of the induction trainings and you don’t have any say or control over it. Wrong. You do. You execute the tasks and if you give it some thought, you might add in your few suggestions to the plan as well. This point actually is very valuable regardless of whether the new joiner is an expat or not – having a proper onboarding plan and team member’s participation in getting the new employee up to speed is crucial to a successful start in a new role.
If the new joiner is a fresh expat, so has just moved to this country recently, it’s worth considering to include some additional bits in the onboarding – tax regulations, medical insurance, labour law, local transport – so that they get to know the first-hand condensed knowledge on the bits that will be relevant to them. It’s so much easier and more comfortable to not have to dig through multiple websites and collating information from various sources. Sources that you are not even sure if they are trustworthy. If this effort is made either through official onboarding or just by you as a nice and helpful team member, be sure that it will not go unnoticed and unappreciated.
Tip 2: Share best nearby restaurants and fun places
As easy as it is. If there is a place you talk about in a team very often and it’s so normal for you to use its name, be mindful of the expat new joiner who just might not follow and might just not get your excitement. It would definitely be appreciated if you gave them a list of the places you recommend or the places you as a team often go to, so that the new employee can a) get to know you better and b) feel more welcome and have some great local recommendations. Trust me, they will be grateful that they could avoid some shitty restaurants thanks to your list 😉
Tip 3: Share tourist tips
By that I don’t necessarily mean just sharing typical places to visit. Although depending on the context and interest of the person, this might of course also be very helpful. My thinking though is things like:
– are there any discounts for typical tourist attractions that not many people know about?
– are there any times and places you’d not recommend going to
– are there any attractions that can be accessed for free at certain weeks of the year?
Again, sharing this local knowledge with the person who has just arrived and might still be a bit lost in all the activities and customs of the new country, is a great help and a great sign of trust and acceptance. Assuming that you are a good team player and you do care to make relations in your team work well – that’s a great tip to consider.
Tip 4: Go out together
Now that you’ve made so many great recommendations, how about organising a team outing somewhere where you can talk but also just have fun? Meeting so many new people over the course of the first couple of weeks in a new job can be tiring. Especially if you have to do it in your non-native language in an environment and set up you are not yet fully familiar with. Organise something fun for the whole team that everyone would like, that involves some team activity – bowling, karaoke, mini golf, fun park, board games… so many things to choose from! Doing things together is bonding and even if it’s just for a couple of hours it will make the atmosphere in the team better and help the person adjust quicker.
Tip 5: Be understanding
Oh the joys of making language mistakes, not being able to pronounce some words, not understanding what other people are talking to you or behaving ‘weird’ compared to the local standards. Expats put a lot of effort into trying to adjust relatively quick, but still it’s not possible to read about everything in the books. Some things you just need to live through, survive and learn from. As a team member who knows the local culture very well or as an expat member who has recently been through similar struggles, you should make the effort to make the new expat team member feel welcome.
Laughing at mistakes together, educating one another, working collaboratively on making the new team a success is extremely important. And you, individual person, yes you, can make it happen by making all these small things and being understanding of the fact that the new expat might go through some struggles. A good way is always to try to find out the reasons for their behaviours and reasons for their worries to avoid misjudgements.
Is there anything you were doing when a new expat joined your team to make them feel more welcome? What was it? How did it work?
As an expat, what would you have liked people to do to help you out? Was there something you would have liked to be added to your onboarding to make you feel more at ease?
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