Looking back along the journey of expatriate life I now see the benefits and advantages life experiences gave our children. As young adults now I can see that through the opportunity to live in five countries throughout their childhood and teenage life, including their home country my children are indeed ‘global citizens’.
Young adults who are open-minded, compassionate, cultured individuals not because they read it in a book but because they’ve lived it. They grew up in countries where they were the minority, they were the different ones. They stood out because of their hair colour, their skin colour and their accent and it is because of this I believe they are the ones who aren’t afraid to be different. They aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd and believe in themselves and stand up for what they believe in.
Some say they are old for their time. They are not, but they have had such a rich experience of life to date- some experiences they do not even remember that their outlook on family, life and education has been moulded through real life experiences that others would read only about in National Geographic and Wikipedia. Their friends are not only from the places that they have lived, but they are scattered around the world as people have moved back to their home countries, or traveled to other parts of the globe on different continents. So much so that if they went anywhere in the world, they would probably know someone who lived there, had been there on a contract, who had friends there who could give advice or help should they need.
This gift of travel, the gift of living in other countries is something which has moulded our children forever, and while some people thought we were mad to have children living so far away from the comforts of home, I believe without knowing it, it has made them who they are and I am so thankful for the journey, the people we have met along the way and the tremendous experiences we have had. For those of you embarking on a journey overseas, with the right mindset and the willingness to open your heart to others you too will experience the joy and enlightenment of living away from home. You will miss your family and your friends and the beauty of the country you will leave, but you will learn to appreciate them all the more when you return for holidays or repatriate. You will never forget the memories along the way.
We understand that the key to a company’s success relies on the performance of the people within it. We also know that a disengaged and unmotivated workforce is detrimental to business growth.
We are aware that as the world’s workforce is becoming more and more disengaged and attrition rates are reaching epic proportions. This is causing companies major headaches.
But did you know how bad things are actually getting?
According to a recent Gallop Poll* 24% of the world’s workforce are actively disengaged (they have totally checked out and are looking at moving on), and 63% are not engaged. This leaves us with only 13% of the world’s workforce engaged in their jobs. This is the percentage of employees who are emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations. Frightening.
Actively disengaged employees therefore outnumber engaged employees by 2-to-1. Leaders often say that their organization’s greatest asset is its people — but in reality, this is only true when those employees are fully engaged in their jobs.
What we do know however, is that when engagement and happiness levels increase, productivity will also increase by as much as 31% and stress levels reduce by 23%.** More productivity, less sick leave, better teamwork. Think about the loss of productivity throughout the world, due to a lack of employee engagement……it’s astounding!
Why is it that so many people have checked out of their jobs? And why is it that so many companies are losing so much human potential?
Lesson to be learned
It is important for employers to know that to reduce attrition rates, an increase in engagement levels is crucial. Traditional forms of motivation such as pay rises and the constant monitoring of performance no longer suffice as key motivating factors. It is now time to recognize soft skills as critical to a company’s success. The research proves that tapping into the psychology of employees is no longer ‘psycho babble’ but a critical component of exemplary leadership and company success.
Next week: Millennials, Leadership and Engagement- A Generational Shift.
* Gallup Poll (State of the Global Workplace 2013)
** Shaun Achor- Good Think Project
Alarmingly, a recent Gallup Poll* of 25 million employees worldwide indicated that only 13% of those surveyed felt engaged in their jobs. This means only 13% of the world’s workers feel a sense of passion for their work, a deep connection to their job, and a sense of wanting to drive the company forward. Put another way, the results indicate that almost 90% of workers worldwide are emotionally disconnected from their place of work and are therefore less likely to be productive.
It’s such a shame that so many people endure rather enjoy what they do!
Add these statistics to the stresses of moving from a place of security, to a world of the unknown for an internationally recruited employee (foreign hire), and we see extra pressure on companies to keep these important, and often expensive recruits engaged and happy. Why? Because the risk is that foreign hires will cut contracts short and return home if they and/or their family members have not settled well into their new country. An unsettled employee is a disengaged employee, and as mentioned earlier, a disengaged employee is not fully productive.
Attrition rates increase when foreign hires are disengaged at work, or if they are generally unhappy with the decision to move overseas. Employee attrition is therefore an extremely expensive and frustrating exercise for employers; it affects a company’s return on investment (ROI), and it will have a negative effect on those employees left to cover the void left by the departing employee, particularly if the foreign hire was employed at management level. This in turn will have a negative affect on the team’s engagement levels, and worse still may cause dysfunction amongst team members. It’s a bit like when the coach or captain of a sports team quits; the impact on those expecting to produce results can be disastrous!
It is therefore important to remember this simple equation:
Workplace Engagement = Less Attrition and Dysfunction = Higher ROI
As I mentioned in the ‘Five Crucial Reasons’ blog, studies show that productivity increases by up to 31% and stress reduces by 23%, if employees are engaged and happy in their jobs.**
If this hasn’t sold you yet, then think about it this way…. To win more customers and therefore a bigger market share, companies must first win the hearts and minds of its employees.
Here at Cross-Cultural TransitioNZ we have a passion for improving the lives of all people who work in an intercultural setting, because we know that value is added not just to the bottom line, but to lives in general, when we live in a culturally competent world.
* Gallup- State of the Global Workplace (2013)
** Shawn Achor, Good Think Project.
With the current skills shortage in New Zealand, many companies would not fill vacancies if they did not recruit workers from overseas. But the recruitment side is only one part of the equation. As companies become more multi-cultural by nature, intercultural competence becomes more and more important.
Why? Because without it businesses may be losing time and money!
Intercultural competence is the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures, and it is has become crucial for businesses to be interculturally competent, as organisations become more and more multi-cultural by nature.
Five Crucial Reasons:
1. Culturally Adjusted People are More Engaged. People are more engaged and happy in their jobs if they feel culturally adjusted, and this in turn makes them more productive. Studies show that productivity goes up 31% and stress reduces by 23%, if employees are engaged and happy in their jobs*. An atmosphere of miscommunication and misunderstanding through a lack of intercultural competence can therefore have a direct impact on your bottom line!
2. It May Help you Seal the Deal. Negotiating deals will be less effective if you are inadvertently offending people through deeply held cultural norms. It is important in business not to impose your views on others from your own frame of reference, otherwise you may lose potential clients.
3. It Challenges our own Assumptions. Intercultural competence opens up our minds from our own personal frame of reference and challenges our assumptions that may impede our ability to understand each other and work together. Intercultural competence therefore establishes a framework for effective communication amongst employees, builds a culture of trust, which can lead to better teamwork that focuses on results, rather than differences.
4. Happy families, Happy Hires. Employees recruited from overseas are far more settled if they have received training in intercultural competence and so too are their families. The major reason why international hires break contract is because the family has not settled well into their new host culture. Repeating the recruitment process sooner than expected can be a very expensive exercise for businesses. It is therefore essential that intercultural competency training is offered to international recruits and their families.
5. The World is a Better Place! Ok, this might be perceived as a slight exaggeration, but think about it for a minute; many of the problems we see in the world right now are due to intercultural ignorance. By engaging in intercultural competency training, your company may just be doing its part in making the world a more open-minded and culturally tolerant world. Now that’s something to be proud of!