Meaghan Rowland explains how managers and HR directors can integrate new team members
With vacancy rates at unprecedented levels across the UK, many local authorities and care providers are filling the gaps with internationally qualified social workers, particularly from Australia and the US.
For new recruits, far from home, getting used to a new team and a new style of working can sometimes be a daunting task. Managers can integrate new international starters by following these steps.
Policy and legislation
Ensure new recruits are up to speed on UK policy and legislation. Include a full overview of adults’ and children’s social care services. Ensure new starters can balance use of legislation with the rights of service users.
Equip your new starters with all the tools of the trade – service directory, referral pathways and the key contacts in other teams they’ll be working with.
Preparing the ground
Make sure your social workers know what to expect. Discuss pitfalls to look out for, things they might not be expecting. Talk about the cultural differences they might encounter, as well as issues surrounding preferred procedure and best practice benchmarks.
Roles and responsibilities
Formalise their place in the team. International candidates are often used to a small and highly structured workforce. Make sure your recruits are comfortable with the details of their role and reporting lines.
Introduce a buddy system. This doesn’t have to be formalised but can be extremely useful in providing a friendly “go-to” face during the initial acclimatisation period. A peer will be more approachable than a manager.
Give honest and constructive criticism. During supervision, don’t avoid or circumvent potential issues. Some international candidates are used to robust feedback sessions and may not respond to a softly-softly approach.
Facilitate social events if you can – remember, your existing team may well be the only people your new recruit knows at first. It’s a good team building exercise – and happier people stay longer in their jobs and get better results.
Meaghan Rowland is senior international consultant at specialist health and social care recruiter HCL International
This article is published in the 24 June 2010 edition of Community Care magazine under the headline How to Help International Starters