In 2010, nearly 6 million people living in Australia weren’t born there. That’s nearly 30% of the total population. That means that if you’re in business, chances are, sooner or later, you’re going to be hiring someone who is from a different culture. That can be a scary prospect, but there are many ways you can make a diverse company work.
Before you even get into the complex issue of integrating various cultures into your office environment, there are a few extra steps you will want to take in the hiring process.
The first is to make sure that the person you are hiring is legally allowed to work in Australia. Ask for copies of their immigration paperwork, and if they are hired, keep them on file.
Second, you will want to conduct checks on foreign worker credentials, which would include checking their education, international references, and verifying experience, and any volunteer and intern programs they say they were involved in.
Adapting to Different Cultures
Once you’ve decided to hire a foreign worker, you will want to ensure that they fit into your corporate culture as best as possible. A good start here is to educate yourself about their culture. Different cultures have different customs and practices, and while most people who choose to live and work in Australia are also happy to conform to local practices, it’s nice to know what the norm is where they are from.
Having this information on hand can help you to prevent embarrassing situations or even office conflict. Remember that something that we take for granted in Australia can be a big insult in another culture, and you want to be sensitive to those sorts of things.
Share what you discover with the team that your new employee will be working with, so they’re also aware of the cultural differences.
While Maintaining Your Own
It’s nice to accommodate the cultural and even religious preferences of foreign workers, but the fact is, we are in Australia, and we have a culture of our own too.
Make sure that you don’t change the core of your corporate culture to accommodate one or two people. Instead, introduce them to the way you do things in your office. Casual Fridays? Team building trips? Pot luck lunches in the boardroom? Company softball team? If you’ve always done those things, keep doing them, and invite your new recruits to join in.
No One Needs to Change
The great thing about international migration is that it gives us all a better way to learn about how other people do things, and while that may mean making minor adjustments to your office environment, it doesn’t mean any drastic changes to how you’ve always done things.
Office environments are flexible enough that everyone can get along no matter what their culture, and as long as everyone is carefully screened before they’re chosen for the team (no matter where they are from), and the same rules apply to everyone, international harmony in your company will be easy to achieve.