Onboarding Programs: 3 Ways to Build a Strong Expat Program

November 21, 2016 Laurie Ruettimann

Onboarding programs are very important to employee success since new workers often show up for their first day of work feeling both excited and nervous. They will have straightforward questions about benefits and company processes. But they’re wondering tougher questions, too:

  • Will my boss like me?
  • Will I make new friends?
  • Will this big upheaval in my life be worth it?

Now imagine that you are an expat who has moved thousands of miles to start a new job. Picture yourself trying to manage “first-day jitters” while also reassuring your family that you made the right decision.

The stakes for the first day of work just got higher, right?

While most expats feel they fit in well with their company, Envoy’s recent survey, Global Talent Perspectives 2016, found that 23 percent don’t. What this means is that nearly one in four foreign nationals who join an organization will have concerns on their first day of work. Thirty-one percent of those who feel they don’t fit in say additional orientation training would help.

After all that time and money invested in the recruiting process, it seems reckless to overlook benefits such as a robust and personalized onboarding program — especially when it’s those very perks that could help expats adapt to your company’s culture.

Here are three ways to build a strong onboarding programs for expats.

1. Use existing technology to improve onboarding programs.

The old way of doing new-hire orientation is awful. Your new employee arrives on a Monday morning and sits in a conference room for several hours while you, as the esteemed HR leader, review the company handbook and discuss benefit programs.

What if new-hire orientation was largely automated and began when an offer letter is signed?

Many HR technology systems provide something called an “onboarding portal.” Much of the administrative work happens for both foreign and domestic employees before day one, which allows HR professionals to create an employee-focused first day of work.

Key Takeaway: An orientation program can be more innovative than you believe. Be proactive and ask your HRIS provider to show you how your current technology can streamline and automate new-hire orientation for your domestic and expat employees.

2. Social media can create bonds before the first day of work.

A new job is a reason to celebrate. Why not encourage your expat workers to share the good news as soon as possible?

Before the first day of work, HR professionals should connect brand-new employees with colleagues on LinkedIn. Seek approval from your existing workers first, of course. Provide a list of key names, email addresses and LinkedIn URLs to the new expat employee. As part of your onboarding programs, encourage her to meet her associates virtually and ask questions about the company and its culture, along with practical questions about her new hometown.

On the first day of work, HR can continue the social momentum. Take some time and help your expat workers update their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. Encourage them to share the news of their new job on Twitter. Roll out the red carpet, collaborate with your marketing team, and snap some new profile photos and headshots.

Key Takeaway: Social media can transform new-hire orientation into a fun, engaging and meaningful activity where expat workers connect with their new colleagues before day one.

3. Cultural adjustment is a personalized journey, not a one-size-fits-all checklist.

HR departments know that hiring a foreign national can be challenging. When an expat employee finally starts her new job, it is easy to check a box and feel like our work is done. But for those foreign nationals who come to the United States for work, their journey is just beginning.

If your onboarding program is process-driven, create an employee-centric and personalized checklist that requires you to ask crucial questions about an expat before she even arrives in this country.

  • Is her family joining her?
  • Does she have any family members currently living in the states?
  • Does she need help connecting with local resources such as doctors, accountants or local school officials?
  • How can we help her connect with citizens in her new town who can make cultural acclimatization easier?

Key Takeaway: The first day of work should be a personalized experience. Just as you would help an employee relocate from California to Indiana, create a checklist for expat workers that makes the process of cultural adjustment a little easier.

Global workforce planning is an essential component of a company’s overall business strategy. One crucial way to win the war for global talent is to strengthen your onboarding program, helping to ensure workers feel welcomed and aligned with your organization from day one and beyond.

The post Onboarding Programs: 3 Ways to Build a Strong Expat Program appeared first on Envoy.

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