Leaving integration up to those to be integrated usually results in the foreigners becoming a common enemy. Xenophobia, intolerance and fluctuation rise.
In production facilities and large corporations, employees face a multi-cultural environment not only in the management, but in lower positions as well. Leaving the integration up to them usually ends up in creating conflicts, in which foreigners tend to end up poorly. It is undeniably the employer's responsibility, should this scenario occur. We know how to integrate foreigners into local teams and to decrease high turnover rates.
We talk to the HR department to find out what is being done in integration at this time and what the outcomes of current measures are.
We check, to what extent the data from the HR department comply with reality.
We propose systemic tools for integration and train HR department to implement the systemic tools during the training of the first 3 teams. HR department will then train the remaining teams.
The process takes from 1 - 3 months depending on the complexity of the structure and internal processes.
Question & Answer
Part of the interview for Industrial revue with Vladimír Hambálek, WENDY chief methodologist
“How to prevent the growing tension between the workers of production facilities, who come from various cultures and nationalities, but who live in local communities?
The answer is very intuitive and rarely adopted. To prevent any group of people from tension, it is crucial to accept that other people are different, and to understand that we are all equal in being different from others and this difference does not threaten us in any way. The only way how to do this is through communication. Traditionally, people have gotten to know each other when sharing a meal at barbecue parties or similar occasions, where they had the chance to talk to each other as individuals, who have similar pains and gains. In other countries used to the multi-cultural environment, it is common to organise culture-specific parties, where representatives of other cultures are invited.
This kind of team-building is supported by employers by providing a bit of vacation and is attended by management. Managers should initiate this process and become a role-model like learning a greeting and a couple of words in all the languages used by their staff, and to actually use them. Formal obligatory team-building is not a solution to any problem - usually it ends up in alcohol intoxication and attendees fall back to their old habits afterwards. Managers must clearly communicate a sincere will to integrate foreigners.
Usually, the companies leave it up to the employees, by which they strongly communicate they do not care about the foreigners and that they are only an exchangeable work force, which should be treated harshly, otherwise the discipline and performance would be low. This approach hyperbolises the differences and does not eliminate them. Fear, abuse, bullying, bossing is the result of such an approach. In such an environment, it is very natural to fulfill the need for finding something in common with the others, by finding a common enemy. As sad as it may be, the easiest to find is not a specific individual, but a group of individuals with common characteristics - like the Serbs, Romanians, Vietnamese or Ukrainians.
It is up to leaders to create a safe environment, where humans would feel good - otherwise it is inevitable that the fluctuation rates will remain high. The cost of acquisition of a foreign worker is not trivial, however. Companies should train their leaders and managers to be able to create a safe environment and to train them to see the meaning in that. I am happy that they have started this process in a couple of companies, already.