Immigrant workers are vital to economic growth, filling out occupations that baby boomers are leaving and even starting businesses on their own. As jobs in specific sectors continue to grow, the need for immigrant workers will eventually become greater.
If you are a business owner and have hired immigrant workers on your team, making them feel welcome is beneficial to everybody involved. Remember that these people have left their home country, possibly permanently, and are still adjusting to their new home. Going the extra mile to make them feel welcome can be a gesture that they will remember forever, making them feel more motivated to work hard.
The first thing you need to do, however, is to ensure you are compliant with the help of an immigration attorney. When you hire an immigrant worker, here are some things to help them feel more at home:
1. Build a workplace culture with sensitivity and tolerance
Building a workplace where sensitivity and tolerance are essential is good for everybody, not just immigrant workers. Being sensitive to each other’s feelings and tolerant of others’ differences can help your business grow as your people learn to work well together. Hence, this is something that all business owners should prioritize.
There are many ways you can promote these values in the workplace. First and foremost, you should lead by example both through words and actions. The way you behave will influence your workers’ behaviors as well, and when an immigrant worker joins the team, they will know what is expected of them. You can further educate them about diversity and respect through educational meetings, seminars, and other means.
Accountability is just as important. If you fail to hold insensitive or intolerable behavior accountable, you may find it more challenging to promote the workplace culture you want. Hence, every employee should be held responsible for their actions, regardless of authority or performance.
2. Learn about the culture
No, you don’t have to throw a themed party to make an immigrant worker feel welcome. This can be seen as insensitive and make them feel even more alienated. Instead, take the time to learn about that worker’s culture. Find out what is considered disrespectful to them so that you can avoid those things. You can do this by simply asking. They will appreciate the gesture itself.
3. Just ask
Instead of the last statement, asking questions like “What can I do to help you integrate?” or “What can I do to help you feel more comfortable?” can go a long way. Your worker may struggle with the language and ask you to be patient with them, or they may need help with understanding the culture and require you to explain. In any case, asking them is better than guessing what they need or assuming what they need. So just ask.
4. Provide support
Offer legal support for your immigrant employees, especially for those who are working with a temporary visa or are undocumented altogether. Doing this will help them maintain their livelihood, and at the same time, you can get to keep them in your employ.
Furthermore, you may also help your immigrant employees seek long-term visas or permanent residency.
5. Appreciate everybody’s heritage
Take opportunities to show appreciation for the different heritages in your workplace. For example, hold events for international celebration, or ask your immigrant workers to share their stories with the rest of the team. Having a workplace culture that is not only tolerant–but appreciative of diversity will help make everybody feel welcome and valued. As a result, the energy in the workplace will be much warmer and more positive.
6. Provide help with local language and culture
If your immigrant worker struggles with the local language and some aspects of the culture, take the time to educate them. You can direct them to free online language material, or perhaps teach them yourself as they integrate into the workplace. At the same time, encourage your other employees to help the newcomer out with whatever they’re struggling with. In time, an immigrant worker will eventually be more comfortable with the local language and culture.
Promoting a culturally diverse, tolerant, and inclusive workplace is your responsibility as the owner. While you’re cultivating a healthy culture in your business, you are also helping your business grow as your workers are more motivated and productive at work. More importantly, you’re doing your part in creating a more equal, welcoming, and respectful community.