First weeks of a foreign employee

The first weeks in a new country and company can be very stressful. The new employee may feel the new environment to be strange and settling in to be difficult, while the work community may feel the new arrival’s continuous need for support to be alien and difficult to manage. Thus it is good for an employer to prepare for the challenges of the first weeks well ahead of the new employee’s arrival.

1. Week
As soon as the new employee arrives in his new home country, he or she must begin the arduous task of wrestling with the bureaucracy. Local registrations and banking affairs have to be done as quickly as possible, so that the new arrival can receive his salary and mail, for example. It is good to reserve enough time to do this properly. However, at the same time the new arrival will likely have to complete an orientation course at the workplace. The need for this is generally widely known and accepted, and sometimes taking even one day off from this is considered difficult. However, taking care of official matters is of paramount importance to the foreign employee and, by extension, to the employer as well. Delays in salary payments or a significantly higher tax bracket caused by not receiving and submitting the necessary documents to the employer on time can put the employee in a very difficult position. Utilizing professional assistance in managing these matters is very sensible.


The new employee will also need suitable accommodation at the start of his employment. An enlightened employer provides support in finding this. Understanding the rental market of a new country and comparing different residential areas requires experience. If co-workers are asked for their opinions, the differences in opinions may be vast. Viewing the prospective apartments and negotiating the lease also take time.


For someone moving with a family, the daycare and schooling of the family’s children are among the most important matters. The swift and expert management of these matters lowers the pressure on the new employee and strengthens his positive attitude about the move.


2. Week
The most significant matters during the second week have to do with home finding. Apartments in Finland are comparatively small while rents are relatively high. Most apartments are unfurnished, a term which has different meanings in different countries. Unless the arriving employee has a realistic expectation of the level of rent and the average apartment size, disappointment may be great.


Utility contracts are also an important factor. Comparing alternatives and making contracts in a new country may be difficult. All of the necessary information is not available in English. Particularly insurance contracts may prove to be real headscratchers.


Food and other everyday products also typically come into play during the second week. Many familiar products and brands are not necessarily available. Particularly more exotic foods or identifying different ingredients may prove to be challenging. Therefore it is important, that the new arrival is assisted by someone who is well-versed in the needs and expectations of different cultures.


Public transportation also becomes familiar during the second week. Although it is used during the first week already, other matters occupy the forefront of the new employee’s mind, such as registrations and work orientation. The second week allows for some exploration of the new home town as well.


3. Week
Once the necessary requirements have been taken care of and the new employee has settled in, his interests invariable start to shift to life outside of the home. Getting to know the local social life and creating new contacts is essential for commitment and well-being. For example, continuing an important hobby in a new environment may prove helpful. Although the workplace is the first social environment to many, it is important to also separate oneself from work and recharge mental batteries outside of any work-related influences.


4. Week
Usually at this point the employee begins to receive mail from the officials. Various confirmations and demands for additional information may cause confusion, as the mail is often in Finnish. They may also contain very individual questions about the most diverse of subjects. Primarily however, by this point all relocation related matters have been taken care of, and everyday life asserts itself.

The first weeks contain many surprises, and many different matters must be taken into consideration. If the new employee’s settling in is thoroughly plannes and well executed, the entire process will be efficient and a positive experience overall – both to the employee and the employer. The new employee will be able to get to work efficiently from the get-go, and there need be no compromises even with the all-important workplace orientation.