A good start and a sustainable integration are essential if you want to ensure that international skilled employees stay with your company in the long term. Even before your new international employee arrives in Germany you as a company can support them, thereby sending out a positive signal and making them feel welcome. Below you will find out how this can be done.
The online portal for international qualified professionals Make it in Germany provides you and your new international employee with information in German and English about entering the country, working and living in Germany as well as with all relevant contacts.
Immigrants who have acquired a certain command of the German language will find it much easier to master the challenges of everyday life and work. As a result, it is very important for international qualified professionals to acquire both basic general and professional German skills. Your company and employees will all feel the beneficial effects of effortless communication with your new colleague.
- You may encourage your new international employee to start learning German in their country of origin. The Goethe-Institut, for example, offers German language courses in more than 92 countries and also provides learners with basic information about Germany.
- Once your new employee has arrived in Germany, they should focus on improving their language skills in terms of their relevance for the job. You as a company may facilitate their learning process and progress by releasing them from their duties in order to be able to attend language courses or by helping with funding. General German language courses are offered by adult learning centres (Volkshochschulen) or private institutes.
- Work-related German courses may be applicable for funding from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as part of an ESF-BAMF programme. Further information can be found here.
Integrating at work
There are many ways of helping your new team member integrate into the daily work routine of your company.
- To introduce your new team member to their new responsibilities, you can create a “job manual” and then discuss it with them. This manual should contain all relevant information on workflows and procedures involved in the job. It is also useful to include corporate policies, rules of conduct, contact persons, tasks and mutually agreed performance targets. Make sure your employee will have enough time to conduct dealings with authorities and attend language or further training courses.
- You may consider providing key policies or rules in English or other foreign languages. Also inform your new staff about informal rules, such as dress codes. This way it will be easier for them to adapt to the norms in your company.
- Introduce important contact persons to your new employee in person. For the initial introduction period it is also advisable to appoint a person to act as a primary contact for the new team member. Ideally this should be an experienced member of staff who will guide their new colleague through their first steps in the company as a kind of mentor.
- Provide further training opportunities. Young qualified professionals from other countries often have little professional experience, especially if their professional training did not involve any practical work. By offering further training, you will be able to train your new employee according to the particular needs of your company. You may either provide in-house training or facilitate participation in an external course.
- Check how the integration process is progressing. Valid instruments for checking on the progress of integration are feedback discussions or your “job manual”. This should provide both parties with insights on which targets have been reached and where there is still room for improvement.
- Organise welcome and/or team building events so that your new employee gets to know and interact with their colleagues. This way any reservations that might exist between your existing staff and the new team member can be reduced.
- Point out development perspectives. This will increase your new employee’s loyalty to the company and your chances of retaining them on a long-term basis. For this goal, formal recognition of the equivalence of their professional qualification may be necessary.
- Support the formal recognition process. The recognition of foreign professional qualifications is far more than a well-founded assessment of qualifications. It is also a way of appreciating an achievement and fosters integration as well as long-term loyalty to the company.
- Establish a welcoming culture in your company. Further information can be found here.
Integrating into life outside of work
You can also help your new international employee integrate into life outside of work.
- Help them find accommodation. You may, for example, provide (temporary) accommodation for your newly arrived employee or help them organize transport for their move to Germany. There are also other practical issues you may help with, such as finding the right heating or electricity supplier or providing information on television and radio license fees (“GEZ”).
- Help them deal with authorities and formalities. You may also help your new employee open a bank account, inform them about insurances and tell them which authorities they may need to contact upon their arrival. EU citizens have to register as residents at their local register office and request a wage tax card, while residents of non-EU countries have to apply for a residence permit at the foreigners’ registration office. Driving licenses issued by non-EU countries must be converted to German licenses.
- Provide them with opportunities to socialize with other employees of your company, such as meeting up for lunch, joining company sports teams or going to company parties.
- You may also ask your new employee whether they would like you to get in touch with an immigrant organization or advisory center on their behalf. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) provides advice to adult immigrants and offers information on local contacts that may be useful. Many communities also have local organizations for immigrants that may help your new employee adapt to the local culture.
- Promote measures to reconcile work and family life. If your new employee moves to Germany with their family, they will greatly appreciate this. In order to retain international qualified professionals who plan to build their future in Germany on a long-term basis, you may, for example, assist their partner in finding a job. In addition, you can also provide or arrange child care.
Further practical information on living in Germany you can find on the online portal Make it in Germany.