The potential of foreign skilled workers is huge

Foreign skilled workers can be an opportunity for medium-sized companies in times of a shortage of skilled workers. HR consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber reveals what is important in onboarding.

“There are many enquiries from qualified foreign professionals, for example from India, who would like to work in Germany or German companies abroad,” says HR consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber. As a headhunter, he maintains good contacts with international companies as well as with skilled workers from abroad. For medium-sized companies, these can be a good opportunity and enrichment, especially in times of a shortage of skilled workers. Provided the onboarding is successful.

Managers with international experience can be helpful

When companies work with employees from abroad, they must first be aware that they cannot have the same expectations as they do of German specialists and managers. “Every culture is a little different,” says Gruber, who has himself travelled to different countries during his time as a manager in international companies. “This different culture is a hurdle when onboarding P&MS.”

It can be helpful, he says, if the company already has experience with foreign countries, for example through customer relations, or if there are managers who have such experience and intercultural competence. They can act as bridge builders for the new employees.

“If you are a manager who wants to gain this experience and work abroad, you should first look at and get to know the country and the people on a trip,” says Gruber. “This can help to develop a feeling for the mentality.” Afterwards, he says, you can prepare yourself for your new job abroad by attending intercultural seminars.

German language skills should be at a good level

“Another important point is the German language skills of the foreign employees, which are important to pay attention to,” says Gruber. To work as a skilled worker in most medium-sized companies, German language skills should be at least B1, if not C-level. “It must be possible for people to communicate well with colleagues. This includes small talk as well as communicating about job-related topics,” says Gruber. “Because many important topics and procedures are not documented due to the long service of most employees, but they are common knowledge and passed on verbally.” In order to understand these topics, which are often so important for the work, a good knowledge of German is therefore essential.

Good process documentation helps with onboarding

Process documentation is one area where companies can generally make onboarding easier for their foreign professionals. “The more processes are neatly documented, the easier it is for people who come from a different culture to be fully integrated,” says Gruber. “If onboarding is successful, the cooperation is a win-win for both sides.”