Did you catch our recent article about the Altair Global survey on employee relocations?
One of the many fascinating findings of this survey was that employees who relocated to the U.S. felt that others underestimated what a big adjustment this was for them.
We get why this happens. The employee has been working for the company for 5+ years, but not necessarily for the company in the USA. Same company, different country, still means a big change is coming for that employee.
Altair has some great recommendations for helping international employees adjust to the U.S. Those tips include treating them as new employees rather than as transfer employees, helping them network with other expats and holding more programs such as roundtables and brown-bag lunches to provide information and support.
As corporate language trainers who have helped many international employees adjust to life in the U.S., we wanted to chip in with our own advice and recommended reading. This article should come in handy for both expats in the U.S. and for the local employees who work with them.
Expat Resources By Country
An expat’s questions about or challenges with U.S. culture depend to some degree on the country they’re from. If you’re an international employee who’s new to the U.S., find your home country on this list and then check out the suggested articles. U.S. employees can choose the country their expat colleagues hail from to learn more about their perspective and how you can best help them adapt to U.S. culture.
If you’re a Chinese expat in the U.S., detailed directions from U.S. colleagues might make you feel micro-managed. Chances are, though, that your American counterparts are just trying to be helpful.
We like International Business Seminars’ comparison of the different business cultures in France and the U.S. For example, Americans “become one” with their jobs while the French are more likely to separate their private and work lives.
Indian expats might discover less hierarchy in the U.S. than they’re used to at home. Your U.S. colleagues might also sound informal to your ear, and some of your questions might seem overly direct to them.
Interpro points out some common differences that Japanese and American colleagues should understand about each other. For example, Americans tend to be more direct, and Japanese people may hesitate to speak out against a consensus.
In our guide to doing business in Mexico, you’ll find some tips about the differences American and Mexican colleagues might discover about each other. For example, Mexican expats in the U.S. might find that meetings and business lunches are shorter and more direct than what they’re used to.
If you’re from Spain and working in the U.S., you’ll want to read up on the different attitudes your American colleagues have about lunch and coffee breaks. The pace of U.S. life and business might also feel a little rushed to you.
Depending on your field, you might find that your work wardrobe feels overly conservative compared with what your U.S. colleagues wear. Gift-giving as a part of business is another point of cultural difference.
Additional Cultural Resources for Moving to the United States
Finally, we want to steer you toward some additional resources we created ourselves:
- First, our guide to U.S. culture is a great starting point for more research, whether you’re relocating here yourself or you’re looking for ways to help expat employees.
- If you’re based in the Lone Star State (as we are here at Fluency Corp), you’ll want to check out our ideas for helping expats feel at home in Texas.
- And whether you’re an expat or a local employee who works with expats, we recommend reading our post on English you can’t learn from a textbook. Expats, your takeaway here is that any English classes you take must teach the language the way it’s really spoken — including slang and local idioms. If you work with expats, remember that they might not understand phrases and expressions you take for granted (like “putting the cart before the horse”) and that you can help them understand more by using simpler, clearer language. To be super-helpful, take a second to explain to international colleagues what an unfamiliar word or phrase means. They will be eternally grateful!
One of the most effective ways to understand U.S. business culture is to practice English with a professional, native speaker. To talk more about language training for you or for expats at your company, contact us for a free consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 401-3159.