When relocating, the initial focus for many is the job at hand, prioritising visa and immigration responsibilities. However, there are many other factors that can influence the success of a relocation, one of which is employees’ integration into new communities. If feeling socially isolated or misunderstood, relocated employees are more likely to lose motivation, perform poorly, or even want to reverse their relocation entirely.
According to Localyze, when relocating talent, companies must ensure that their employees are supported socially and culturally, allowing them to adjust to their new environment and ‘click’ with norms that might be different from their own.
Hanna Asmussen, co-founder and CEO at Localyze, said: “Embracing new cultures can be daunting as new employees look to fit in within social circles. Cultural adaptation plans should be in place when relocating talent to new countries that they are not familiar with. It can be challenging to settle into a new environment where behaviours are different, and employees need an understanding of the new host culture to avoid potential misunderstandings, both in and outside the workplace.”
When experiencing culture shock, many face stress, anxiety, and feelings of being out of place. This can affect work satisfaction, productivity, and time management, hindering team performance. Surprisingly, culture shock can occur even when relocating from one region to another within one’s own country, with many naturally assuming this only happens when moving abroad.
“Ensuring that employees relocate with a strong understanding of their new host culture is vital. Initial preparation will enable employees to adapt quicker to their new cultural environment and ingrain themselves within their new teams. Preparation doesn’t have to be something very dry or complicated – it could be just having a more experienced buddy to guide you in those first few weeks to help navigate differences in how people work, give each other feedback, handle conflict, or express opinions.”
Buddy programs should be in place to help new employees adjust to life outside of the office and embrace their new environment. Employers must create an environment where employees can ask questions to help ease their transition. This will help set realistic expectations and remove any initial shocks one may experience when diving into a new culture, reducing performance setbacks.
Asmussen concluded: “Relocating is a scary process with new employees fearing the unknown and cultural awareness plays a huge part. When employers overlook this critical aspect of the relocation process, it can cost organisations dearly in the long run. Without support, time is wasted, with many opting to return home, finding the unfamiliar culture disorientating. Alongside relocation platforms, HR managers must have cultural adaptation plans in place to make the transition processes easier for fresh talent and reduce team disruptions.”