3 Ways You Might Be Failing When It Comes To Cross-Cultural Onboarding

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Onboarding isn’t just a buzzword of the new era of workers, it’s an experience helping to assimilate new hires into their roles effectively. While many companies have placed great emphasis on their domestic onboarding practices, the core challenges they face are in their international approach. A recent survey by Inc. found 76% of companies aren’t effectively onboarding their employees.

As tech-savvy workers dominate the workforce, companies are struggling to effectively utilize technology to personalize their onboarding approach for foreign workers. Their lack of mismanagement in their cross-cultural onboarding process is negatively impacting their employee experience and overall business.

In an interview with Vice President and General Manager, HR Business Unit at ServiceNow, Deepak R. Bharadwaj stated the most overlooked part of cross-cultural onboarding is the end-user experience and making employees feel like they belong. Bharadwaj said, “onboarding is the best opportunity to start off on the right foot or else you end up trying to dig yourself out of a hole.”

ServiceNow is a cloud platform dedicated to helping companies easily manage and automate their onboarding, offboarding and transfer process. Their Enterprise Onboarding and Transitions tool helps to reduce the friction employees experience when joining a new company or transferring to an international office. Bharadwaj states their primary focus is bridging the gap and “bringing all of the departmental silos together so they can deliver their services in a more personalized manner.”

Here are the three ways companies are failing when onboarding employees across cultures

Lacking a Strong Foundation

A global onboarding practice isn’t a one size fits all approach. It consists of a solid foundation with more personalized details adapted to each individual position. These details are tailored to new employees as well as current ones relocating to a new country.

A solid foundation requires having a basic understanding of what the employee's end goal will be and defining a strategy to achieve that. ServiceNow’s platform lets organizations customize every aspect of the onboarding experience across offices and cultures. Their platform uses a simple drag and drop technology where companies can easily configure the location, country requirements, job types and various other elements to create a more streamlined process.

Using a Blanket Strategy

What works for one country doesn’t work for another. The working culture and customs are different across each individual location. This poses major challenges for employers relying on a blanket approach and neglecting the cultural nuances.

Employers who take the time to understand the cultural sensitivities and differences have a greater chance of preventing miscommunication while improving their relationship with foreign employees. New hires of different cultures feel included and comfortable when they feel like they’re joining a native company instead of a foreign one.

Companies often fall short when it comes to the finer details such as translating documents into the native language. It’s these details that create an inclusive workplace across cultures. In an effort to cut costs, they rely on an online translation tool that lacks the skill set and proficiency of a native speaker. The benefit of investing in a native speaker is their ability to correctly identify the context and formalities of words used and while using targeted language to adapt the translation to the culture.

Embodying a Short-Term Approach

The new generation of workers are dedicated to their future growth more than any other previous generation. Baby boomers were known to stay in one job for an average of 20 years trading in personal development for job stability. In a candidate-driven market, employees are no longer afraid to leave a position misaligned with their goals for a company dedicated to their development.

Employers who are ill-prepared to discuss and lay out an employees journey from the beginning risk losing top talent. Creating an Employee Journey Map is no longer a perk but instead a key piece to onboarding and retaining new talent. Journey maps are a more personalized approach to managing onboarding across cultures. If an employee is interested in taking an international position in the future, journey mapping their path there will not only increase retention but motivate them to achieve that goal.

ServiceNow helps companies build employee journey mapping into their onboarding with frequent check-ins and feedback opportunities. This allows HR to see how the employee is feeling and how they can best be supported. Bharadwaj emphasizes how crucial it is for employee engagement to remain as high as when the candidate accepted their offer.

A well thought out and constructed program personalized to each individual location and position strengthens the bond between the employer and employee. Automating the paperwork and typical onboarding practices helps employers focus on building long-term relationships with their new employees to keep them engaged and productive. Bharadwaj emphasizes the importance of seeking feedback consistently and frequently from employees to keep improving the onboarding process for future hires.

What are ways we can better manage cross-cultural onboarding processes?

Originally published by Heidi Lynne Kurter at https://www.forbes.com.



Forbes senior journalist, workplace culture consultant, leadership coach, domestic violence advocate, workplace bully activist and Corgi mom!

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Heidi Lynne Kurter

Forbes senior journalist, workplace culture consultant, leadership coach, domestic violence advocate, workplace bully activist and Corgi mom!