Start-ups: Why good onboarding is important for expats

Unlike many Germans, their country is not very popular with expats. This resulted in a new survey by the company Internations, which cares for expat communities – and landed in Germany on one of the furthest seats. The reasons: The foreign workers do not find German friends, argue with the language and the lack of digital infrastructure. This is fatal for a country with a skills shortage, and countless companies are desperately looking for qualified workers.

That’s why some start-ups try to attract potential employees across national borders. One example: Unu – a Berlin e-mobility start-up that produces electric scooters and serves international customers – and which is already very international with 70 employees from 15 different nations.

HR Manager Pia Schuschies explains: “Our founders come from and live in different countries and therefore have an international contact circle.” English is therefore a team language – which makes the Internationals, who do not speak German, much easier anyway.


The first steps in Germany

That’s what happened to Can Kutlu Kinay. The 32-year-old comes from Istanbul and has been working for unu for three years as Senior Software Engineer – a job that is in heavy demand among German employers. Kutlu Kinay, who wanted to emigrate with his family for some time, has become aware of his friends.

“There was a multi-stage application process where everything went smoothly,” he says. But after he took the job, it was complicated: visa processes, government agencies, housing search. He was assisted by Schuschies and supported the family in the processes.

The HR manager ensures that all international newcomers are provided with information and suitable documents. She also accompanies the newcomers to the authorities – and sees herself above all as an emotional support: “Many are very excited and nervous. They are afraid that something will not work out or go wrong. “So far, however, it has always gone well.

Also interesting: Why good onboarding is important for new employees

Pia Can
HR Manager Pia Schuschies and Software Engineer Can Kutlu Kinay (Photo: unu)

So that Schuschies is not alone in the onboarding process and the new ones are integrated, there is the buddy system, where experienced colleagues act as mentors: Each new employee is assigned a buddy who clarifies general questions – even everyday ones, so not up job-related concerns. Care is taken to match Germans with internationals.

On the first day, the buddy also takes care of instructing the new guy in the tools and showing the internal wiki. The colleagues gladly accept the buddy system. “They feel honored when they are allowed to be a buddy and we also coach them,” says Schuschies.

This was well received by Kutlu Kinay: “I felt well looked after right from the beginning, they took care of me and answered my questions.” Before moving, he had tried to learn the language and dealt with it, just like life is regulated in Germany: health care, child care, school system, but also what career opportunities exist for his wife.

It depends on the corporate culture

Through the support he had experienced in his new job no culture shock. “Although it was a big change, I fit in well from the start and it did not feel like a big change.”

Schuschies explains: “We have an international team culture, we combine our values ​​that we have defined for our company. These values ​​are universally valid and apply to every culture. For example, it’s about authenticity, courage or creative problem solving. “

The recruitment process is also geared to this: “During the application process, we focus on hiring only people who can identify with our values, and anything else – character or cultural differences – then takes a back seat.”

That’s why Kutlu Kinay also favors start-ups as an employer: “In big companies, there are solid structures to adapt to first” – and that would make it difficult for internationals in particular to settle down.

Kutlu Kinay also finds it important that his colleagues took care of him. “Many expats like me moved to Germany for the job, they first have to build up a social network again.” Colleagues are then the first port of call.

He is grateful, too, because they helped him fight the bureaucracy’s windmills: “If you want to register, you need an apartment; but you will only get the apartment if you are registered. ”

Helping people help themselves

Schuschies therefore advises other companies not to leave their international newcomers alone in these processes: “Everything should be documented as accurately as possible: tax system, insurance, housing search. We also have a Welcome Guide for Berlin, so you will not feel lost. That’s help for self-help. ”

The same applies to the work processes – an internal wiki and regular coaching of colleagues is important, so that the knowledge sovereignty is not just with one person.

Start-ups who want to internationalize, they recommend to set values ​​for the team culture and only to hire suitable candidates. “But you also have to be willing to accept the new people and live an open culture.” Attractive for international applicants is also a transparent compensation model and a job advertisement in English.

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