As an HR professional, one of your jobs is helping internationally-relocated employees acquire all the knowledge and information they need to do their jobs well in the new country, and all of that starts with the handbook – but what if certain concepts don’t exist in their country? This is hard work — especially if your company has employees from different countries working together.

Employees who relocate to the U.S. often feel that others underestimate what a big adjustment this move is for them. Giving these employees the support they need to succeed has many aspects. One aspect you may want to explore is modifying your employee handbook to better address the needs of global employees working in the U.S. Here are a few ideas on what to include.

10 Secrets to Managing your Multilingual Global Workforce

Is Your Employee Handbook Missing These Elements?

  • Language pointers. Your employee handbook isn’t going to make your workers fluent in another language. (Hey, that’s what we’re for!) But it can share a few phrases they can use to break the ice and start conversations. For example, let’s say your company has relocated a group of employees from your Mexico City branch to your Dallas office. Your handbook can have a glossary of some of the English office terminology and unfamiliar acronyms that Spanish-speaking employees will encounter.
  • Definitions of U.S.-specific terminology. Even if you have a translation of your handbook, or even if your international employees read English fluently, don’t assume that they will understand everything that it covers. Working in the U.S. introduces many expats to concepts they’ve never encountered before — like health-care deductibles. Think about where you might need to edit your handbook to include some expanded definitions. The easiest way to figure out what needs clarification, is to give it to one of your newly-relocated expats, and have them circle everything they have questions about. Then, sit down with them and explain it, and when they get it, write down THAT definition! It needs to be understandable to THEM, not understandable just to YOU.
  • Tips on U.S. business culture. A lot of things we take for granted as just “the way things are” at work are actually specific to our culture in the U.S. Do you have employees who have relocated from other countries? Help them feel more at ease and less confused by explaining key aspects of U.S. business culture in your handbook. If one of your employees has worked in both countries, ask that person to write a list of surprises or differences that he or she encountered, but wasn’t expecting. Go to social media and ask around if there isn’t anyone like that. I am sure there is someone who can answer some questions for you.
  • Local information. An expat employee isn’t just trying to get used to your office, though. They’re also working to fit in and feel at home in their new community. What information could you provide in your employee handbook for them? This could include practical information, like local banks, hospitals and government offices. But you could also cover fun topics like local history, events and traditions. Even employees who have moved from other regions in the U.S. should appreciate this information!

When you enlist Fluency Corp to improve your employees’ fluency for those expats working in the U.S., they’ll learn from experienced, native-speaker instructors and get an American Best Friend to help them assimilate that first year as well. Whether they are acquiring more of the language in person or online, we become your friend, fluency partner and guide to their new surroundings. Fluency Corp instructors also serve as invaluable guides to U.S. business etiquette and culture. For a free consultation, contact us at or (800) 401-3159.