August 8, 2011

Orientation Helps New Employees Succeed Faster

Skilled immigrants are not only new to Canada — they’re new to your organization and its unique culture.

When bringing skilled immigrants into your organization, you have a unique opportunity not only to help a new hire feel welcome, but also to introduce professional development opportunities that can strengthen your organization.

Outlining expectations for all employees is a logical place to start and offer specific information and training that addresses cross-cultural differences in business norms. For example, forms of address, meeting customs and adherence to punctuality. Provide examples of situations to ensure that you and the new immigrant employee understand the organization’s culture and expectations among staff — for example, the various ways of addressing an authority figure and the salutations always used in some cultures.

Cross-cultural training will be beneficial to new hires and your existing employees. Sharing information can avoid misunderstandings later. This can include a social styles workshop that will help employees understand cross-cultural differences in communication styles, or a dialogue about Canadian cultural customs and cues (from coffee breaks or group lunches with co-workers to giving and receiving constructive performance feedback).

Internal mentoring, perhaps with a member of the new employee’s culture, can accelerate the new hire’s adaptation with an ally who understands their situation. Mentoring is also a good way for existing staff to gain cross-cultural competencies.

You can also consider offering occupation-specific language training to help skilled immigrants gain aspects of Canadian norms for the industry or profession.

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