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What HR Leaders Can Learn From International Employees

Feb 6, 2024

Immigrant women in the United States.

Companies that prioritize diversity in their workforce are not only more innovative but also better equipped to navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing world. One valuable source of diversity for HR professionals to tap into is the wealth of perspectives offered by international employees. 

In this blog post, we will explore how HR leaders can harness the unique insights of their international employees and what lessons can be drawn from the distinct practices of companies abroad.

How Corporate Cultures Differ Around the World

Before we jump into what HR professionals can learn from their international employees, it is important to acknowledge how workplace culture varies between countries, and the inherent differences international employees may bring to their new role in the U.S. 

While hiring foreign workers broadens your company’s access to global talent, cultural differences and varying expectations regarding workplace norms can potentially lead to conflicts. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the ways in which cultures differ worldwide. 

Between 2017 and 2019, Harvard Business Review (HBR) launched an online assessment to explore how corporate culture varies in different regions. HBR received over 12,800 responses from around the world, where respondents were asked to rank their company on eight distinct culture styles.

Source: Spencer Stuart, Harvard Business Review

The rankings varied widely from country to country, with some patterns showing consistent results across specific regions. 

Source: Spencer Stuart, Harvard Business Review

HBR’s study shows how international employees who come from different environments and company cultures often bring a wealth of diverse cultural experiences and perspectives to the table. 

HR professionals should recognize that a multicultural team is an innovation powerhouse. The fusion of various viewpoints fosters creativity, enabling teams to devise inventive solutions to complex challenges. By embracing this diversity, HR leaders can create an environment where employees feel empowered to express their unique perspectives, ultimately driving innovation within the organization.

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Different Approaches to Work-Life Balance

Companies in various countries have distinct approaches to work-life balance. Some cultures prioritize long working hours as a sign of dedication, while others place a higher value on maintaining a healthy equilibrium between professional and personal life. HR leaders can learn from the practices of international employees by adapting policies that reflect a more holistic view of work-life balance. This may involve flexible working hours and schedules, remote work options, or even incorporating wellness programs into the workplace.

Communication Styles and Collaboration

Communication is key to successful teamwork, and understanding diverse communication styles is essential for HR professionals. International employees may bring different communication norms and expectations from their home countries. HR leaders should foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves in a way that feels comfortable for them. By incorporating various communication styles into the workplace, teams can enhance collaboration and efficiency.

Adapting Recruitment and Onboarding Processes

Recruitment and onboarding processes may differ significantly from country to country. HR professionals should tailor their strategies to attract and integrate international talent effectively. This includes a deep understanding of the U.S. immigration process, the development of cultural integration programs, and providing language support where necessary. By adapting these processes, HR leaders can ensure a smooth transition for international employees and set the stage for their success within the organization.

Boundless tip

If you’re an HR professional or company leader looking to hire international talent, get access to our business immigration solutions and in-house legal team here.