What are the best practices to integrate foreign workers successfully? Learn from an expert.
Norway has seen an influx of foreign workers over the past few decades as a response to the demands of the various industries in Norway requiring talent and competence which the local job market is unable to fulfill.
However, moving to and living in Norway is not a simple process. Putting focus on this topic at the Norwegian workplace can lead to a more harmonic workplace and can foster a culture of mutual respect, learning and understanding among all employees.
Key factors to successful integration into the Norwegian workplace
The biggest hurdle for many foreigners is the language, or rather the lack of Norwegian language fluency. Being fluent in the language does not simply provide a channel of communication, it also takes foreigners one step closer to a deeper understanding of Norwegian values, beliefs, and the Norwegian culture.
Possessing a positive attitude helps tremendously when it comes to the process of integration.
One thing to bear in mind is that things are and will be different in Norway compared to one’s home country. It is a different country, after all. It helps to be respectful, humble, and patient. Also, it is important to see things from a Norwegian’s perspective as well.
Welcoming culture and relocation assistance
Experiencing a welcoming culture by Norwegian colleagues and friends makes it a lot easier for foreigners to integrate into the culture in Norway.
Having assistance with immigration, home finding and settling processes can also aid greatly in easing the stress for foreigners moving to Norway.
Also read: Norwegian business culture
So how can employers better assist in the integration process?
It makes sense for employers to support their employees with the integration process. Relocating a new employee is extremely costly and a good employer would want to ensure to keep their employees (and their families) happy.
Language training in Norway is expensive. It would help significantly if employers who hire foreign employees can provide a certain number of hours of basic Norwegian language training.
Create a welcoming environment
Integration of foreigners into the Norwegian workplace is not a one-way traffic. It is equally important for Norwegian counterparts to be inclusive in their treatment of foreigners as well.
One way could be that new foreign employees can be assigned a buddy or a "fadder" when they first start to work. This gives them someone they can safely ask for answers to their questions and someone who can help them understand the company’s values, cultural norms, and other basics.
Yet another way is for Norwegian counterparts to specifically ask foreigners for their opinions and suggestions during interactions. It can be quite common for foreigners to be reluctant to speak up in the beginning. It is important that foreigners new to the workplace know that the company welcomes input, even if it might be different.
Walk the walk, not just talk the talk
‘Diversity and Inclusion in the Norwegian Workplace’ has been a tagline and focus for many companies in Norway for the last couple of years now. Inclusion in the workplace relates not just to tolerance, but to welcome participation in the workplace’s community and its activities as well as to show acceptance for the differences of everyone and to show mutual respect. Lack of focus on this can lead to issues such as exclusion, groupism and unconscious discrimination.
Relocation assistance and intercultural training
Many companies engage the services of a relocation company to assist their foreign employees and their families with the practicalities of moving to and living in Norway. Having a relocation professional inform the foreign employee what to prepare, what to expect and how they will assist can smoothen the relocation process for any employee.
Attending settling in orientations and intercultural training seminars have proven helpful to many. Employers could consider providing this for their foreign employees and spouses/partners.
Also read: ID control for foreign employees in Norway
Encouraging foreign employees and local employees to get together through social activities such as "lønningspils", team-building activities, networking events, sporting and cultural events is always welcome.
Ask for feedback from employees
Every company culture is different and in big companies, one department can differ tremendously from another. Obtaining relevant and concrete feedback will be a useful tool in improving the best practices of integrating foreign employees in Norwegian workplaces.
For more information about integrating international employees in Norway, see relocation.no.