Hiring a non-nat­ive speaker into the organ­iz­a­tion

In our blog series The Multicultural Workplace we have inter­viewed com­pan­ies that have embraced a more inter­na­tional work cul­ture here in the Joensuu region. Adapting the com­pany cul­ture to bet­ter facil­it­ate non-Finnish speak­ers and mak­ing English the second or even the primary busi­ness lan­guage allows busi­nesses to tap into the poten­tial of inter­na­tional pro­fes­sion­als, grow into the inter­na­tional mar­kets and gain new per­spect­ives.

We sat down with Nigel Kilby and Janika Kinnunen from NK Lexicon Business Services (NKLBS) to dis­cuss the import­ance of cre­at­ing more inter­na­tion­ally minded work­places. NKLBS helps Finnish com­pan­ies in all mat­ters related to the use of English in their busi­ness oper­a­tions. Kilby stresses that everything starts with under­stand­ing the import­ance of being able to com­mu­nic­ate and listen to ideas in a com­mon lan­guage and recog­niz­ing the value that inter­na­tional pro­fes­sion­als can bring to a com­pany.

”We are acutely aware of the fact that there is a need to bring work­ers in from out­side of Finland. They will bring with them new ideas, new approaches and that is some­thing of value to any com­pany. I have seen some res­ist­ance and rather unreal­istic expect­a­tions regard­ing Finnish-lan­guage skills when employ­ing people from the out­side. This can lead to com­pan­ies miss­ing out on a won­der­ful oppor­tun­ity to bring in people who can look at the same issues from a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­spect­ive and bring with them essen­tial skills that can­not cur­rently be sup­plied by the work­force mar­ket in Finland ”

Integration is a joint effort

When hir­ing a non-nat­ive speaker, sup­port will be needed dur­ing the recruit­ment pro­cess and after onboard­ing. Taking the first step in hir­ing a non-Finnish speaker might be chal­len­ging because of the per­ceived lan­guage bar­rier or even very prac­tical obstacles such as employ­ment con­tracts, work safety doc­u­ment­a­tion and intro­duc­tion mater­ial being avail­able only in Finnish. The step becomes easier to take, when the com­pany under­stands the value of bring­ing in inter­na­tional pro­fes­sion­als; That’s when atti­tudes start to change.

”First and fore­most the com­pany needs to under­stand the import­ance of the indi­vidual they con­sider employ­ing and then there needs to be a change in the cul­ture within the com­pany”, says Kilby. To suc­cess­fully make this change and build a more inter­na­tional work­ing cul­ture, Kilby stresses the import­ance of bring­ing in a respec­ted third party to facil­it­ate this pro­cess.

Adjusting to liv­ing and work­ing in a new coun­try is chal­len­ging, and the employer should con­sider what the com­pany can do to facil­it­ate integ­ra­tion. As we Finns are still fam­ous for being shy to use our – often good – lan­guage skills and small talk isn’t really our strong point, it is import­ant to coach both the Finnish team mem­bers and the new inter­na­tional addi­tion to the com­pany. The team needs to under­stand the added value of the new employee and get some encour­age­ment to com­mu­nic­ate in English. On the other hand, when com­mu­nic­at­ing with their new Finnish col­leagues for­eign employ­ees can feel excluded unless they build an under­stand­ing of the Finnish cul­ture and com­mu­nic­a­tion style.

”It’s about mak­ing the indi­vidual feel wel­come in the com­pany. That their col­leagues are actu­ally glad that they are there”, says Kilby.

When the wel­com­ing atti­tude is there, tak­ing care of the admin­is­tra­tion becomes less daunt­ing. With the help of pro­fes­sional trans­la­tion ser­vices all the doc­u­ment­a­tion and intro­duc­tion mater­ial  needed to onboard the new employee can be trans­lated into English. Leadership plays an import­ant role in cre­at­ing a pos­it­ive work­place cul­ture of equal­ity, diversity and inclu­sion.

When we dis­cuss the future of work­life here in Finland, Kilby simply wishes that in the future there wouldn’t be a need to have this con­ver­sa­tion. Increasing the use of English at work­places plays a key role in tap­ping into the poten­tial of inter­na­tional pro­fes­sion­als, while they are still get­ting settled in and learn­ing Finnish.

”This needs to be made a pri­or­ity and in the end it’s just a mat­ter of imple­ment­a­tion”, says Kilby.

Janika Kinnunen (left) and Nigel Kilby help Finnish com­pan­ies in all mat­ters related to the use of the English lan­guage in their busi­ness oper­a­tions.

About NK Lexicon Business Services:  NKLBS provides vari­ous tailored ser­vices, includ­ing coach­ing of com­pany employ­ees to become more relaxed and more con­fid­ent in using English in their com­pany’s busi­ness oper­a­tions in abroad mar­kets, con­sulta­tion and help with the pre­par­a­tion and sub­mis­sion of EU busi­ness grant applic­a­tions and trans­lat­ing and edit­ing com­pany doc­u­ments and web pages.

Companies in the Joensuu region inter­ested in hir­ing inter­na­tional tal­ent can also turn to Business Joensuu and Luotsi Joensuu.

Text: Anne-Maria Kankaisto