By Anton Constantinou
Young people entering the workplace stand to benefit greatly from international experience, read a recent Re:locate article. In their discussion around mobility and employment, they maintain that in order for recent graduates to succeed at work, greater flexibility must be given to talent management programmes adopted by companies.
Today’s graduates are increasingly global. A preference for gap year travel and studying overseas has given rise to a generation who seek a similar level of connectivity in the workplace. Connectivity meaning freedom to work abroad, which, traditionally has been reserved for those in the 40-49 age bracket, who, in 2016, made up 38% of all those embarking on such trips. In the same category, young people account for just 10%. However, new research is calling for a change to that trend.
Experience and expertise have historically shown to be the main determining factors in whether not someone should be allowed to move between countries on business: in other words, the more senior you are, the more likely you are to be put forward. Workforce mobility goes hand-in-hand with trust. Freedom to perform one’s job remotely is said to increase loyalty among a group who “simply get restless in homogenous work environments”.
Admittedly, not all companies have the resources to incorporate young people as part of a global talent mobility strategy. Without global offices and a focus overseas, the possibility for work related travel is significantly diminished. But that doesn’t mean to say steps can’t be taken to welcoming new graduates with the right mindset. Below are a list of quick wins companies can make in becoming more international-ready.
Encourage staff to learn new languages
By doing so, you’ll boost interaction within a diverse workforce and equip your employees with a valuable skill they can take on their personal travels.
Incentivise your bilingual speakers to teach others the basics during lunch or after work, with the help of office facilities like whiteboards and flashcards. Alternatively, you can make a social activity out of people using apps like Duolingo and Memrise, setting goals for new phrases learned over a set period of time, and rewarding the winners at the end of each week or month.
Create an in-house book stand and fill it with foreign language books
The stand itself needn’t be complicated; a simple table with a selection of titles will more than suffice. Think Penguin Classics, voyage novels and phrasebooks. Save on purchasing costs by encouraging people to swap reading material.
Provide corporate discounts to international eateries in your local area
Entice your employees to go Vietnamese, Arabic or South American at lunch with special deals at restaurants nearby. Food is often one of our first entries to a new culture, and familiarity with it can be easily arranged. Get started by looking up restaurants offering preferential rates for corporate businesses.
Keep a tab of where your employees travel to with a world map
DIY world maps come in various forms and are easily mounted to the wall. Once you’ve settled on your choice of material, plot people’s movements with stickers, pins, magnets or cut-outs of their faces. Such maps can be used to track business trips as well as leisure breaks.
Host a monthly cook-off
Put an international twist on the theme by encouraging employees to cook meals from different countries. For each month of the year, alternate the choice of cuisine, drawing upon staff ethnicity as a source of inspiration. If your office only has a microwave, simply ask people to cook at home and heat up their submissions on the day.