’’Dress code in Christmas parties and how much Finns enjoy sauna can be surprising” The integration of international talent to the work community

The settling in process for foreign talent can be a difficult part of international recruitment, because the newcomer must integrate into the society as well as the work community. We listed a few important tips to consider when a new employee moves to Finland.

A diverse work community usually increases the efficiency of teams with different perspectives, but diversity can also be a cause for friction. When other people’s operating models and habits are not familiar, it can cause unnecessary challenges. However, merely the heterogeneity or homogeneity of the work team alone does not produce effective teams. According to a Google study, the most effective work teams were those teams and communities where psychological safety was felt and shared. When every member feels safe and confident about their own and others’ work while also feeling a sense of appreciation – it produces the best results. So the question is, in what ways can this feeling of security be increased for a new international expert?

Good orientation is the key to everything

While the orientation process usually lasts for the trial period – it is usually longer, more extensive and more complex for a foreigner. In addition to work related onboaring, a new employee will have to familiarize himself with many other things as well, because the Finnish work culture may differ from what they are used to. For orientation, it would be good to have a documented and planned process and in addition to this, it would be good to ensure that the new employee is not left to his own devices with these new things. Can someone in the organization help the new employee with the questions related to settling in? Creating a safe environment where any and all questions can be asked helps the employee get included in the community.

The orientation of foreign talent should also consider the many “unspoken rules” that our work culture contains. The dress code for Christmas parties or the inclusion of sauna inmany recreational evenings may be self-evident to us, but it is good to mention these things to someone who has just moved to Finland. The responsibility for these questions should not be left completely on the shoulders of the new employee, but the entire work community should adapt to the newcomer as well.

When hiring the company’s first foreign employee, it is not enough just to instruct the newcomer on work practices, but also the current employees may need guidance on culture, work-language and communication.

Finnish feedback culture can be confusing

The low hierarchy and the first-name principle are special features of our work culture for a reason. However, there are a few things to consider when giving feedback. It would be good to give immediate feedback so that the new employee knows they are doing things correctly. Praise, encouragement and positive feedback guides the employee, and it is required not only in performance evaluations, but in general work life as well.

Development discussions and one-to-one discussions with the supervisor should be mentioned to the new employee already during the onboarding process. In Finland, the one-to-one conversations that are carried out as part of daily management can come as a big surprise, and the new employee may be afraid of negative feedback or even being fired when he unexpectedly receives an invitation to talk to his supervisor alone – especially if feedback is never given otherwise.

Happy spouse, happy house

If the new employee has a spouse and/or family, their relocation to the new country should not be forgotten. It has been studied that prematurely terminated assignments abroad correlate with family or spouse adjustment difficulties. In the workplace, too, it would be good to think about how the possible family of the new employees are taken into consideration. Could an occasion be arranged where spouses are welcome, and what kind of other joint activities could be organized? Getting to know the Finnish forest, a sledding event in winter and other activities both act to introduce Finnish culture and involve the whole family, creating opportunities to get to know and spend time together with other employees and their family members.

The employment and network building for the spouse can be difficult without the support and help of the local community. Children’s school and daycare places and hobbies may also cause concern. However, the employer does not have to be alone in supporting the new employee’s family, as spouse support services can also be provided as part of the relocation services, in which case our experienced relocation specialist together with the spouse will discuss their expectations, needs and wishes regarding work, volunteer work, and hobbies, and assist with these accordingly.

According to our research, a satisfied and well-adjusted spouse improves the employee’s performance at work and supports their interactional adaptation by organizing social activities in their free time. Support outside the workplace is reflected in better health and thus performance in the workplace as well.

Need help with your employees integration? Contact us – and let’s find out the best solutions for you!

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