A perplexing problem on all HR managers’ minds is how to better integrate foreigners into their companies’ local workforce when there is a gap between Singaporeans and people from differing backgrounds. Albeit good infrastructure, a multicultural society and an English-speaking workforce, the divide between locals and foreigners is very clear, but here’s the thing: the solution is simple!
If you’ve done whatever the government recommended but you’re still unable to improve the satisfaction level of your foreign employees, look no further. Here are 3 revelations foreign employees want their HR managers to know.
1. Understanding local culture and its nuances
While Singapore boasts an English speaking workforce, there are still communication barriers between locals and foreigners. Our Singaporean slang makes integration a lot more challenging.
Like how foreigners should call an elder “uncle” or “auntie” even if they are strangers instead of their first names.
Or how tissue papers are used to reserve or colloquially “chope” a table at hawker centers.
As a by product of our unique culture, Singlish is a very powerful tool foreigners can use to better understand Singapore’s culture. Having local colleagues assigned as partners to these foreign employees when they start work will help them acclimatise with the Singaporean accent and slang.
2. Settling in
Not all foreign employees take home $200k a year and can afford to live in the CBD.
Just the other day, I saw a British family of three move into the next door unit of my friend’s HDB flat. Increasingly, more foreigners are renting HDBs and living in the heartlands. Not only does it let them soak in local culture by living amongst Singaporeans, it is also much more financially sensible.
Offering aid to find housing across a price range would most certainly help your foreign employee settle in much faster.
3. Integration is a two-way street.
Just like how it takes two hands to clap, the integration of foreigners not only need Singaporeans to be welcoming but also require foreigners to step out of their comfort zones.
For many of these foreign employees, their profile changes from being part of the majority to being a minority here in Singapore. It is only human nature to live collectively in a group where everyone complement each other. Often a not, foreign employees tend to congregate together and some are even contented with just staying in their own bubble.
Therefore, bear in mind that with all the integration programmes we provide, there will always be some people who will not want to integrate into the local scene. Forcefully engaging them may be counter-productive.