There are two different ways in which a new employee can get culture shocked, Loo Mei Yee, senior coach at Executive Coach International
, told HRD
“There is the culture for Singapore and the company culture. HR will need to prepare the foreign worker for both because they will be probably shocked by two layers.”
Even someone relocating within the same organisation can experience different company cultures between offices in different countries, she said.
“They may expect the company to be the same but when they come on, it’s totally different. HR would need to let them know of the differences.”
She recommended HR introduce the new foreign PME to this dual layer of cultural differences within the first few weeks after they’ve arrived in Singapore.
“You need to have an orientation in the first few weeks to ease them into the culture,” she said. “If you [simply tell the new employee] before, they will probably have a lot of things on their mind and they’re not going to pay attention.”
It is also important to have an introductory system in place to help reduce the sense of culture shock in foreign employees, Loo said.
“If [HR says], ‘Come here, let us ease you into the culture itself,’ [the foreign worker] will feel like they are being taken care of,” she noted. “There will be an integration point and they can see there is a system to help them move through this. It’s a lot more helpful.”
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Within Singapore’s tough recruitment market, the need for foreign workers remains strong. For PMEs immigrating from overseas though, Singapore can present a number of cultural challenges which they will have to get used to. What can HR do to help make this transition smoother?