A positive workplace culture is essential in helping newcomers feel part of a team, says local businessman Murray McPherson.
The Lifestyle Motorhomes Managing Director has had employees from throughout New Zealand and overseas working for his company for many years. With people from a wide variety of cultures entering the Ashburton workforce, it is important for employers to continue learning about how to help them feel at home. No matter where people are from, everyone also has different ways of fitting into a team.
“Newcomers add diversity and have different skills. You need to try and learn a bit about their culture. We are a multicultural town and need to embrace all cultures.”
Murray uses the example of an engineer he employed from India, who would bring traditional food to work.
“It created a lot of conversation around the lunch table and led to everyone trying the food and learning more about his culture,” he says.
Recently, Murray attended a seminar for people employing migrants, held by the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce. He says he found it to be a valuable way to keep up to date with changes in immigration and how to best communicate with staff whose second language is English.
“It can be difficult for employers to find the right information to help newcomers integrate into the workplace and the community. It’s a matter of trying to learn wherever we can, and keeping up to date with the information that’s going around,” he says. “One key thing I have always remembered is that when you are explaining something to someone with English as a second language, they might say yes and we think they mean they will do that or they understand, but to them it means yes they are listening.”
Using different websites and reading newsletters are other tools Murray found useful for staying up-to-date with legislation.
Murray says having a social club for his staff means everyone, including newcomers, can get to know one another better and enjoy their time at work more.