(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) "What a small world." An all-too-familiar phrase exercised frequently in the UAE usually to makes sense of coincidental encounters that occur between the city's 'global citizens'.
It should come as no shock that the current UAE population comprises 83 per cent non-UAE nationals, and within that, 58 per cent are South Asians, 17 per cent are other Asians and 8.5 per cent are expats from Western countries.
Cultural diversity has many reported advantages in the workplace, including increased employee innovation and and respect for cultural differences. However, managing a diverse workforce also comes with its challenges, and understanding how to simultaneously motivate individuals from different cultures, and keep them engaged, is something all successful international business owners must become adept with.
It is paramount that all employees feel they are appreciated and their opinions are valued, regardless of their heritage. By creating a positive work environment in which all employees feel valued, it provides a common practice of knowing and embracing diversity. Here are 5 ways to engage employees in a multicultural workforce.
Work towards a common goal
Employees are the backbone for meeting objectives that are set out within any company. Ensuring teams are working together towards these common goals and consistently restating them provides employees with a defined path to follow. By providing these set goals, it provides a guideline in which the team can use to work together and allow for their different creative opinions to shine through in a positive environment. Particularly where language and customs differ, it is important to keep all employees on the same page in order to minimise challenges posed by cultural barriers.
Difference isn't always cultural
It is a common misconception that when people of different nationalities have a difference in opinion, it is assumed it is due to cultural difference. It is also equally common that we expect others to react in the same way as ourselves to situations. Both are inaccurate. People are different, and so they react differently. Personality, ability and skill need to be taken into consideration when recognising differences in the workplace. Although people may be of the same culture, they are still individuals and thus need to be treated as such. Remember, we all have emotions, and although the triggers may be different, it is important to convey a consistent message that these feelings are taken into consideration and are cared about.
Train your team
Training is a great way to benefit both employees and the company, as it develops skill sets and cultivates cultural awareness and team bonding. Seen as one of the strongest motivational tactics for promoting an increased sense of self worth among staff, untapping employee potential, developing team relationships and managing cultural differences, staff diversity training is a great way to foster an elevated sense of self-awareness throughout an entire organisation. By placing both old and new employees on diversity training programmes, it allows for all team members to understand the company's expectations towards how colleagues treat one another. When it comes to skills training, always ensure fairness is exercised when it comes to deciding which employees are offered the opportunity, and seek to run all staff through training in either a staggered or simultaneous manner.
A great way to encourage employees to interact and learn more about one another's cultures is to create "out of office" bonding experiences. Organise social events such as company family days and team-building activities to give employees the chance to mingle in a more casual environment. Why not open the opportunity to host "cultural days" when employees of different ethnicities can share some traditional foods with colleagues and do a casual talk on the unique customs of their respective countries. Activities such as this can provide a fantastic way for connections to be made.
A large part of keeping employees engaged is respecting and understanding their ideas, career goals and opinions. Asking for feedback from the workforce in regards to their job role, management and career progression provides an opportunity to communicate expectations of the company and colleagues, as well as allows for the company to understand where it may have room for improvement. This is also a great way to increase the employees' self-esteem and loyalty to the job and team.
The writer is founder and creative director of Design Haus Medy. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
Legal Disclaimer: MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.