Some global mobility managers have all the luck: they send their assignees to a new country and, after only a couple of hiccups, the assignees are speaking fluently with their new friends and blending in like they’ve been there forever.
However, these assignees are few and far between, and it’s more likely you’ve got some assignees who just aren’t adapting as quickly as you might expect. Here’s how to help those late bloomers move past culture shock and adjust to their new world a little more easily.
Find familiar activities.
For Americans living abroad, there are going to be certain things that just aren’t as readily available as they are at home. American football, peanut butter and free refills at restaurants are hard to come by outside of the USA. While it’s important for your employee to get used to replacing homefront favorites with soccer, Nutella and doling out some extra cash for another drink, finding places where there are familiar activities and foods can be a great help to those struggling. Encourage employees to try and find one of these little slices of home within their host country. Whether it’s an after-work dodgeball team or an American-themed diner, these places can be a great respite for an employee to relax and rejuvenate.
Connect with a “cultural informant.”
Another culture can seem impenetrable if an employee is facing it alone. Encourage them to connect with someone from within the culture who can help make sense of new and confusing events without judgment. While someone from within the host country is a valuable resource, oftentimes other expatriates are the best to help explain another culture—they’ve already made all the mistakes! Having someone who can understand and explain cultural practices without judgment, and who can impart valuable wisdom on best practices within the new home, is a valuable resource for any assignee.
Invest in language and culture-learning.
The top way to help employee adjustment is to make sure that they’ve got the tools to interact confidently with their new culture. Imagine how difficult it is when you need to get a haircut or go to the doctor and you’re not able to communicate as well as possible! Help employees learn the language, including specific vocabulary related to food, health and shopping to keep them confident when navigating the daily stresses of life in the new culture. If you’re looking for ways to expose assignees to vocabulary and culture-learning they might not find in a textbook, encourage them to seek out authentic content. Whether it’s a through reading a local newspaper or checking out one of the intriguing foreign films we’ve got at Mango Premiere, this real-world content is an engaging way to learn new words and understand some of the cultural norms and slang of everyday life.
So tell us, what have you found to be the best resources to help culture-shocked employees begin to adapt?
Not sure how your employee is doing as they adjust to a life abroad? Download our checklist of the top signs of culture shock and help them get more comfortable in their new home!