There’s a lot to think about when you’re tasked with handling your organization’s immigration: compliance, filing deadlines, keeping up with changing policies. But it’s crucial that you also keep sight of the employee experience of the foreign national workers you bring onto your team.
We know employee experience is important for employers who are considering immigration partners – in fact it’s the most common factor they consider, according to our 2018 Immigration Trends report. Still, the number who do consider employee experience was just over half, meaning there are many organizations out there that don’t have employee experience on their radar as they handle immigration.
That should change. According to research published last year, organizations that focus on the three core elements of employee experience (culture, technology, and physical workspace) tend to enjoy four times higher profits and 40% lower turnover than their peers that don’t. Here’s a look at why employee experience matters, particularly when it comes to immigration, and how you can bring the benefits of an experiential workplace to your company.
Anxiety high about visa status
Most employers today understand, at least in theory, the importance of developing a strong company culture. What’s less universal is making sure that a company’s culture translates across its employee base and their cultures.
This is especially true for companies bringing on their first foreign national hires. For foreign national employees, the employee experience begins long before their first day on the job and continues throughout their tenure with the company. Making sure that experience is a positive one may require unique forms of support.
For example, in our Immigration Trends survey, 42% of employers noted that the biggest change between 2016 and 2017 was that foreign national employees demonstrated more anxiety and questions about their immigration status. That’s a powerful finding and a helpful reminder: Part of ensuring a positive employee experience is making sure every employee is free from unnecessary worry and therefore able to be their most engaged and productive.
Improve access to immigration data
One way to ease immigration-related concerns is to adopt an immigration technology platform that makes life easier for everyone involved. Our research shows that 62% of employers are receiving more requests than in years past from foreign national employees for increased technology — mobile apps, for example — and easier ways to access their immigration data, suggesting that those with active visa applications want to be in the know about any status changes.
Regardless of whether that has been your experience, though, adopting a tech platform can make it easier for your team to stay in compliance, collect necessary documents, meet deadlines, track payments, and track conversations between employees and attorneys, all of which can increase employee trust and engagement in the organization.
Many platforms (including Envoy’s) also make it easier to track and forecast spend for immigration-related work, which simplifies budgeting for future years.
Celebrate diversity and inclusion
This is less straightforward but can go a long way toward improving the employee experience for foreign national workers by visibly demonstrating that they’re part of the team. For example, in our offices, employees have small icons of country flags in their name plate representing a country of their ancestors, a meaningful location to them, or their country of origin. These sit on employees’ desks and have become a great opportunity for employees to start conversations, educate each other about their heritage or culture, and feel pride (or disappointment) during the Olympics or World Cup.
We also frame and display photos of people from around the world whom we’ve helped navigate the immigration process with their employer, alongside plaques offering information about their background and their current role.
Another strategy might be to organize full-office or team celebrations around holidays important to your foreign national employees as well as for those commonly celebrated in the United States. These are an excuse for not only employee bonding but also educating your entire workforce about various world traditions. Encouraging managers or smaller groups to take the lead can also help build a culture inclusive of diversity in the workplace.
Employee experience is every day
As with many facets of HR, employee experience is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. The encounters and interactions that your employees have every day contribute to their overall experience. That’s why it’s so crucial to take time to invest in culture, technology, and your office space to lay the groundwork for the big-picture changes that will foster positive experiences for your workers, no matter their country of origin.