Integrating locals and foreigners in the Asian workplace

With countries like Singapore increasingly leveraging on local talent to fulfill business needs, the development and retention of local talent is becoming a key priority among firms in Asia.

Companies have realised that an average talent pool today is made up of a hybrid of local and foreign staff who need to be able to work and coexist harmoniously in order to succeed.

But this is easier said than done.

In our latest whitepaper, Return of the Asian Talent, we interviewed overseas Asians who are looking for employment back home and recognised the unique factors which help in attracting and retaining them. It highlighted one of the top concerns of such professionals was the difficulty involved in assimilating back into the local culture – despite hailing from it.

As such, what can hiring managers do to help staff with different backgrounds integrate in the workplace and build a harmonious environment? 

Facilitating interaction 

One of the most efficient ways locals and foreigners can work together is through learning transfers. For example, as part of developmental programmes, staff with more international backgrounds and experience can facilitate the transfer of their global knowledge and skills to locals.

At the same time, they can gain more in-depth local experience and information from their local counterparts. This will allow all different types of talent to leverage on their strengths and work productively.

To make talent feel even more comfortable in a culturally-diverse environment, employers can also include opportunities for staff to interact in settings outside of work so that different employees can get to know one another. These include informal networking sessions and game nights. 

Understanding and addressing needs 

Additionally, employers can take the initiative to be more aware of cultural backgrounds, lives and interests of employees. Building relationships through increased understanding and trust helps to foster inclusion. Employers can take advantage of such knowledge to meet specific needs of employees, and make them feel more welcome at work.

This is especially crucial for new hires who have just moved across geographies.

"Returning Asians may be familiar with their home countries, but it helps when hiring managers understand that the first few weeks will involve residual errands from their move back home. The little things will go a long way in showing returning Asians they are working for a company that values it employees beyond the bottom line," says Gerrit Bouckaert, Country Manager, Robert Walters Thailand and Vietnam. 

Eliminating bias 

It also remains integral to ensure all hires feel they are getting equal opportunities. Internally, performance and reward metrics should ideally be built on the same grounds for everyone, irrespective of origin and background of staff.

Additionally, when considering candidates, companies should take the best-fit approach, seeking the best person for the job with regards to merit and skill sets, be it locally or from overseas. 

To find out more on what attracts and engages returning Asians in the workplace, click here to view our latest whitepaper, Return of the Asian Talent.

Thinking of hiring Singaporeans based overseas? Check out Robert Walters’ ‘Balik Kampung’ programme.