Welcoming New Staff
Helping new employees settle in and succeed in the workplace is a business investment, with long-term retention benefits for the company. Productive, happy, and loyal employees are those who feel valued in the workplace. Employers, with a bit of preparation, can develop a system to integrate newcomers while keeping operations running smoothly.
"Investing in the integration, retention, and development of immigrant talent should be seen as a win-win opportunity — where mutual benefits are realized for both immigrants and an organization's bottom-line."
(Source: Conference Board of Canada Immigrant Friendly Businesses)
Canadian Work Culture
New employees may soon identify differences from how business and work is done in Canada, compared to what was previously practiced in their country of origin. Every workplace has its own culture. How to properly greet people, what is considered appropriate work wear, and communications protocols are just a few differences new hires may notice. Watching and asking questions are often the easiest ways to understand the culture of the work environment. Understanding these questions may arise will help prepare employers with appropriate responses and direction for future reference.
The Canadian Work Culture page on the Simcoe County Immigration Website helps to illustrate that business practices vary from culture to culture, and understanding how to address these differences may lead to long-term successful employment in Canada. This page may be shared with colleagues and other business partners.
Most employers already have an informal or formal employee orientation process in place. Ensuring that the following items are addressed can help increase performance and speed up the adjustment period. For all new hires consider providing:
- Company overview – product information, services, clientele, and history.
- Personal introductions to company employees and descriptions of their roles.
- Employee handbooks or other "policies and procedures" documents.
- Workplace tour (and map) that includes all facilities, staff rooms, exits, entrances, etc.
- An organizational chart – chain of command and who reports to whom.
- Equipment usage policies and instructions, including cell phones, computers, copiers, etc.
- The location of supplies/equipment and procedures for accessing them.
- Information on pay schedules, time-off requests, benefits, expense accounts, etc.
- Emergency, security, and health & safety policies and procedures.
- A list of company-specific terms, acronyms, and abbreviations.
- Accommodation for religious or cultural practices.
Workplace Integration Tip - Establish a "buddy" system
A friendly and culturally-sensitive employee can mentor a new hire and share workplace information such as: business attire, lunch and coffee break routines, handling personal phone calls or emails at work, birthday celebrations/social events, and other routines.
A mentor can also help to explain team dynamics, or workplace hierarchy. Workplace team environments vary from culture to culture and understanding this may help new hires integration more efficiently.
Watch the video from hireimmigrants.ca about the buddy program at Pythian in Ottawa.
A job-specific orientation can help employees to better understand expectations and responsibilities. Cultural or language barriers/preferences may affect interactions with co-workers, resulting in communication errors. To support increased job satisfaction and performance, it is important for employers to:
- Outline in writing roles, responsibilities, and objectives.
- Explain performance evaluation practices.
- Review training plans and employee progress reports regularly.
- Offer training or professional development opportunities.
- Ensure all staff have the opportunity to share best practices.
Job Integration Tip – Consider new ways of doing things
Immigrant employees bring with them innovative global experiences regarding business practices that employers may not have previously considered. New ways to enhance, or streamline operations, may be uncovered by asking new employees for suggestions and input.
Existing employees may need support and diversity training to better understand and relate to co-workers from other cultures. A loyal and stable workforce, with high retention rates, can be created by fostering positive work relationships.
Senior staff and management, both play a pivotal role in creating a welcoming environment, one that ensures both new and existing employees are successfully contributing to overall team success. Read the "Top Tips for Supervisors and Trainers" from:
North Bay Employer's Guide: Newcomers and Your Workplace
Video for employers:
Integrating Talent Video 1: New Skilled Immigrant Employee Orientation, Coaching & Support
Global Talent - Employer Guide from the London Economic Development Corp.
Read the section on “How does an organization keep its good workers?” see page 34
Conference Board of Canada Immigrant Friendly Businesses:
See what KMPG is doing to build cultural diversity awareness in the workplace, see page 36