Texas is heavily represented in the list of the fastest-growing U.S. cities in 2018. And maybe some of those new Texans are employees that your company has relocated from overseas to the Lone Star State.
As an HR leader, part of your job is helping these expat employees feel at home in a new environment and collaborate successfully with their Texan colleagues. One way to do this is by sharing Texas culture with them. Even if your expats studied up on U.S. culture as a whole before they left home, there’s a lot about Texas life that’s distinct. Welcoming them into the Texas fold isn’t just the neighborly thing to do, it also strengthens your team’s bonds. Here are a few ideas for introducing expats to life in Texas.
Being Good Sports Together
A lot of Texans are football obsessed. If fall conversations at your office tend to center on the next Cowboys, Texans, Aggies or Longhorns game, help newcomers feel included. Organize a watch party or even a trip to a game. It’s an extra-friendly touch to give expats a crash course on football fundamentals and the traditions of your team (whether your office bleeds maroon or burnt orange or both). During one of our private English lessons at Samsung, a student asked us to have an entire class explaining the game!
Football isn’t the only game around, of course. Watching or attending the events of any Texas team — from the Spurs to the Astros to the Stars to your local high school teams — together is a great bonding experience and will help international employees feel included whenever the talk turns to sports. Going over some sports idioms used in the workplace is also a great idea to keep them in the loop of strange language they may hear.
A Taste of Texas Culture
International employees relocating to Texas might already be aware that the state is known for barbecue and Tex-Mex. But there’s also a lot more to Texas food. The flavors of Texas come from a variety of other places, too — from Germany to Vietnam to the Czech Republic to our neighboring state of Louisiana.
To give your expats a taste of what Texas has to offer, plan team trips to (or order in from) your city’s signature local restaurants. Or organize a potluck featuring everyone’s favorite recipes — which will also introduce you to the food your expats love.
Employees from overseas are likely unfamiliar with some observances their colleagues might mention, such as Texas Independence Day, Juneteenth and El Día de los Muertos. Your expats will also appreciate it when you let them know that a major local event — like the State Fair of Texas in Dallas or South by Southwest in Austin — is coming up and explain its significance. These special occasions can also inspire outings or activities for your office.
Translating Texas Talk
Whether the native English speakers in your office hail from Texas or from other parts of the U.S., chances are that your expats will have some trouble understanding them. Even if they’ve studied English before, working alongside native speakers every day is a whole new challenge. If you’re offering corporate language training — and you should be — make sure that it includes tips on understanding the local accent and idioms (as well as help for expats with accents that are keeping them from being understood).
It would also be fun to do occasional emails explaining Texas expressions like “all hat, no cattle” and “this ain’t my first rodeo.” Ask your employees to contribute their own favorite Texas-isms.
If you’re looking for a Texas company to help your employees build language and culture fluency, we’re based in Dallas and work with clients throughout the state (and country). Give us a call for a free consultation.
P.S. If you’re in the process of moving employees from overseas to Texas, you won’t want to miss Fluency Corp’s guides to international relocations: