Managing Cultural Diversity at Work

September 26, 20163:57 pm8638 views

Traditional companies commonly hire employees according to their unique culture and perhaps are more rejective to disrupt the current culture they have in place while the more westernised companies welcome the cultural differences and see it as an open opportunity to learn something new. But as we progress into the innovative era, companies are getting more and more receptive to introducing a multicultural workplace.

Therefore, with a multicultural environment comes the impending challenge for HR persons in managing the various cultural diversity while balancing the harmony and settling the disputes that could happen. It is indeed a challenge for both the HR and the management to employ effective strategies that are suitable overall as the employees come from different cultural backgrounds and countries.

Cultural diversity can cause a serious hitch in the development of solid teamwork. It is tough to unite a team with different cultures, and even harder to bring together the entire company to work efficiently together, especially for departments that need the support of each other to perform at its best. Also, the challenges in terms of the language differences, beliefs and working styles might appear.  

See also: Building Camaraderie at Work with Fun Office Activities

HR persons then play a key role in managing this culturally diversified group, including giving them the needed support so that they will be able to work together without discriminating any differences amongst employees.

There are many ways to manage, and the following are the basic strategies for a good start in building up the team effort to bring everyone together as a team.

1 ) Understanding Cultural Differences

It is important to know the dimensions of your the employees’ cultural diversity at the company, including perception of time, distance, communication patterns, hierarchy, and more. It is also necessary to educate the HR department and the management team relating to the issues that may arise to optimise the performance of the employees and minimise the adverse consequences that cultural differences bring about.

With an adequate comprehension towards the differences, employers can work together with the HR persons to set suitable policies for employees.

2) Introducing Free Speech

Appreciation and acceptance are two crucial factors to create a harmonious workplace, especially with a culturally diversified team. HR and employers can work together to inculcate an environment where people are comfortable to talk to each other even about their own differences. That can be done by introducing mentoring/buddy programs for new hires and open dialogues sessions periodically for everyone to share their ideas and new knowledge.

With the different backgrounds of employees, it is also a nice gesture to celebrate important holidays of each other’s country. Such events can be done in simplicity, but such simple gestures bring about much more benefits. When employees feel accepted and secured regardless the cultural differences they have from each other, their morale and engagement could increase significantly thereby enhancing the capability of each and everyone to perform optimally.

3) Practising Effective Communication

Conflicts arise when misunderstandings occur. For locals, their communication style might be different but as locals, they still do understand the word forms or abbreviations used. For foreigners, they can have an entirely different style. Employees need to learn more in-depth about each other and to communicate in a more casual way other than just on work stuff so that they will learn about the style of speaking of each other.

It is important to build a good working relationship but even more important to bond together as a team. In this way, when one knows the other’s style, work can be more efficiently communicated without misunderstandings arising.

4) Working Calendars

Managing a culturally diversified team is much easier when the management integrates the national holidays and important celebrations in their working calendar. By doing this, other than it reminds employees how the company values them, it also allows employees to manage and prioritise their work tasks efficiently, knowing that on those celebratory days, there will be a short period of time set aside.

Should the company decides to put a standard, for example, giving an off-day for all national holidays, then this gives more reason to ensure all employees know in advance on the dates of the national holidays, etc. Offering additional perks to the employees is to enhance their productivity and enthusiasm towards their individual roles other than inducing the feeling of acceptance and security of the employee.

In conclusion

Having success in employees’ management will bring about many fruitful results, especially in productivity, morale and engagement. Therefore, HR persons in collaboration with employers should devise strategies to create and encourage a cohesive working environment.

Next read: Resilience in the Workplace: Impact on Employee Well-Being

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