Three Ways to Help Newcomer Employees Feel Welcome (TroopHR Blog)

Oct 16, 2023

This blog was written by Nicole Baynham, Head of Partnerships at MobSquad, for the TroopHR community, a national network for HR leaders to learn, connect, and elevate their careers amongst top talent from leading organizations. 

As businesses look to build the strongest teams, more and more companies are going global – expanding their horizons to welcome the best talent from all over the world to contribute to their growth and success. That trend is likely to continue, with nearly 90 percent of U.S. companies surveyed in Envoy’s 2023 Immigration Trends Report saying they are recruiting and hiring foreign national employees on an ongoing basis. While this diversity brings unique perspectives and fresh ideas to the table, it also presents a challenge: ensuring that newcomer employees feel truly welcome and integrated into not only your organization – but a new life in a new country.

Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for newcomers is not just a matter of good corporate citizenship; it’s a strategic imperative. When newcomer employees feel valued and at ease in their new workplace they are more likely to be engaged, productive, and committed to the organization’s mission. But more than that, fostering a welcoming atmosphere that goes beyond the office walls enhances your company’s reputation, making it an attractive choice for top talent worldwide.

At MobSquad we have welcomed more than 100 newcomer employees, and their families, to Canada and our organization in the last five years – and learned a lot about what things we can do to help these newcomers feel welcome and cared for during their relocation and arrival in a new country. From creating and nurturing a culture of inclusivity, to providing tailored onboarding experiences – these tactics will not only benefit new hires from abroad, but also contribute to a more vibrant and successful workplace. Here are three things you can do to help make your newcomer employees feel at home in your company, and their new country.

1. Take the stress out of immigration

While the diversity of all your employees is an asset, and should be celebrated – it also comes with unique challenges, especially for newcomer employees adjusting to a new country and culture. The foundation for a welcoming workplace begins with inclusive corporate practices. These actions should address the unique needs and concerns of newcomer employees. For example, offering visa and immigration assistance can be a game-changer for employees navigating the complexities of work visas and permits. This support not only streamlines the relocation process, but also eases the stress associated with immigration. Newcomer employees who feel supported during their immigration process are more likely to stay with the company in the long term. High turnover can be costly for organizations, so efforts to retain talent by making their transition easier goes a long way.

At MobSquad, we take the commitment we make to support our newcomer employees to heart. We have enlisted a dedicated team of experienced immigration professionals who guide our employees and their families through every phase of their immigration journey. From handling paperwork to assisting with visa and permanent residency applications, our team is there every step of the way, ensuring that the transition to a new country is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

“After years of dealing with US immigration stress, it was such a relief to have hands-on legal support and guidance during our move to Canada. Not only was the process made easy and all my questions were promptly answered, but my visa was processed and approved very quickly. I felt so much better about my decision to relocate my family knowing that I had a dedicated immigration expert and team available to me throughout the process,” said Oleksii Zaprii, a MobSquad employee who relocated from Ukraine to Vancouver, Canada with his wife and daughter.

By providing this level of support, we not only ease the administrative burdens for our employees, but we’re also able to show them a genuine dedication to their well-being and success in their new roles, and homes.These kinds of inclusive policies encompassing things like immigration and relocation assistance are a foundational step towards creating a workplace that embraces diversity and welcomes the best talent from anywhere in the world.

2. Go above and beyond in your onboarding

Having a strong and thoughtful onboarding process is key to making a good first impression with any employee, but when that employee is also moving their entire life – and family – to a new country, the stakes are that much higher. In a report by Aptitude Research, sponsored by onboarding software company Click Boarding, 86% of employers said that they believe that new hires make the decision to stay at a company in their first 90 days – so we might as well make those first few days, weeks, and months count!

Your onboarding process should not only help newcomer employees understand the basics of their new roles, how company systems work, and how to access things like benefits and wellness packages – but go a step further, and put yourself in the shoes of someone trying to navigate life in a new country. MobSquad has worked diligently over the last few years to create an all encompassing onboarding process for newcomers, which includes dedicated staff who provide tailored offerings such as detailed instructions (and hands-on assistance when needed) for things like airport pick-ups upon arrival, setting up their Canadian bank account, accessing healthcare, and assistance navigating the rental and housing market in Canada. Our relocation and community engagement team work with each and every person as they go through their relocation process to ensure their unique needs are met.

“MobSquad understood that I was coming from a different country and gave me a list that explained all the basic things I needed to take care of when I landed, like how to get a Social Insurance Number and a recommended a cell phone carrier,” said MobSquad employee Yash Shah, who relocated to our office in Vancouver, Canada nearly a year ago from his home in Mumbai, India.

“It showed that MobSquad was mindful that people are coming from different countries and different contexts, and that there will be some things that they just don’t know. The MobSquad team set me up with enough information so that I could make better, more educated decisions for myself and removed my worries around not knowing where to start or what to do. The fact that they were also there to welcome me at the airport when I arrived made me feel that much more at ease and cared for. I knew I wasn’t navigating this big life change alone.”

3. Create meaningful social opportunities

When individuals make the bold decision to uproot their lives and relocate – often along with their families – to a new country in a new part of the world, those people are usually leaving behind their entire support network. The absence of this support system can make the adjustment to a new city and job a challenging endeavor for any newcomer employee. This is why it is so important that companies working with these people help them feel like they’re part of a community.

When employees feel like they’re able to create bonds with their colleagues, it extends into the workplace, significantly enhancing its vibrancy and creating a more positive environment – one where people truly care for each other, and feel they are cared for, too. A June 2022 Gallup Survey underscores the importance of these office connections, revealing that individuals with close friends in their workplace showed substantially higher levels of job engagement, consistently produced high-quality work, and reported an overall sense of well-being that positively impacted their professional lives.

One way we help MobSquad employees feel this way is by creating as many opportunities for them to get together in informal ways, including happy hours and regularly catered lunches, where the entire team is invited to gather away from their desks. During these happy hours or lunches, we set aside an hour or two to share a meal in a relaxed setting where connections can be made among colleagues. These lunches aren’t about looming deadlines or difficult projects –  but instead allow for everyone to genuinely focus on getting to know each other. Whenever possible, we find it’s a great ice breaker to incorporate a fun activity that anyone who wants to, can participate in. For instance, many of our MobSquad offices are equipped with ping pong tables, and we’ve seen countless friendships take root during a casual game over the lunch hour.

Knowing that employees coming from abroad are often not coming alone – but with partners and children – it’s also important to help their families know they are a part of your company community, too. You can do this by hosting regular family-focused events, and actively encouraging employees to bring their partners and children. This approach represents a significant avenue for creating meaningful social connections for these families and helping them build a sense of belonging and community in their new home.

Graciela Mora joined the MobSquad Calgary office last year – moving to Canada from Costa Rica with her wife  – and says one of their biggest concerns before they got here was that they would miss their families and friends.

“After my first month I felt more comfortable and more at home here because I had a great routine – I came to work and I spent time in, and outside of the office, with my coworkers building new relationships,” she said. “MobSquad worked hard to make not only me feel included, but also my wife – with all the activities, lunches, happy hours, and events – there is always something going on where we make friends and do something as a group.”

Recognizing that your company can ease the stress and worry of newcomers by doing a few key things will ultimately make your business stronger, and your employees feel like they are part of a community that cares for them. By helping newcomer employees through the slog and stress of administrative immigration work and doing whatever you can to set them up with the basics for success in a new country goes a long way in fostering a culture of inclusivity – and one where employees feel like they belong at your company.

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