Posted by Heidi Schwartz
The United States, United Kingdom and Singapore rank as the top three most popular destination countries where multinational companies are relocating employees, according to international transferee data from January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014 released by Cartus Corporation, a provider of global relocation services.
Cartus’ data finds Singapore made the biggest jump: from the 6th top destination in 2013 to 3rd this year. Rounding out the top 10 destinations are: 4) Switzerland, 5) Hong Kong, 6) India, 7) Germany, 8) Mainland China, 9) Netherlands and 10) Canada.
Data was culled from Cartus’ worldwide client base, which includes 50 percent of Fortune 50 companies. Last year, Cartus relocated more than 165,000 transferees into or out of approximately 165 countries.
“No matter the country, it’s imperative for employees to understand a culture’s values, beliefs and behaviors that differ from one’s home country,” said Jenny Castelino, director of intercultural and language solutions for Cartus. “Adapting to a new country—whether it’s in a business situation or on a personal basis—typically requires intercultural training to ensure success.”
Castelino points out some common areas where misunderstandings can occur, including communication, management style and business relationships, for each of the top 10 destinations:
Communication – more than words
Germany: Eye contact is respected and expected, as it demonstrates attention and interest in a conversation; avoiding eye contact may be interpreted as conveying the opposite message.
United States: U.S. managers tend to preface bad news with good. For instance, “You’re doing a great job!… but I really need you to…”; expats may hear only the positive message and miss the secondary (and more meaningful) news.
Netherlands: The Dutch communicate directly and mean what they say; they’re task focused, pragmatic people who value swift action.
Management styles – respect for hierarchy may be more important than expressing individual opinion
Singapore: Singaporeans you meet professionally may seem very Westernized, but they also have an Eastern mindset, and respect for hierarchy and “saving face” are key business drivers.
Mainland China: An implicit rather than explicit conversational style is required in order to save face, especially in meetings. This may result in employees publicly agreeing with the most senior leader in the room even if they privately have opposing views.
Hong Kong: Business cards are crucial to establishing your identity and your relative seniority in comparison to the individual you meet. They are your “face” to the professional community here; don’t leave home without an ample supply of them on hand.
Business relationships – strongly impacted by close personal relationships
India: The voice of the family is paramount in India; when recruiting staff, be prepared for your candidate’s family to be very involved in the decision making process.
Switzerland: Don’t assume business is conducted in Geneva the same as it is in Zurich; Switzerland has four main cultural and linguistic regions: German, French, Italian and Romansh, and there are distinct differences among all four.
United Kingdom: Asking new colleagues to answer personal questions is simply not done, especially in the workplace. A question like “Do you have kids?” might seem too personal.
Canada: Canadians consider themselves quite different from Americans—and they are—so assumptions to the contrary may result in a strong reaction.