About 90% of the UAE workforce is made up of expats from all over the world. People are bringing their cultures and languages into the workplace, which means opportunities and challenges.

There are many benefits to a diverse workforce including new creativity, connections and cultural awareness. Still, one major challenge is communication. Beyond the difference in languages and accents, you also have to account for the differences in cultural norms.


Build Respect and Inclusion into Company Values

Because there are always new hires to integrate and people moving to different roles, it’s impossible to fully train everyone on every culture and language. That’s why it’s important to build in respect and inclusion as company values. Creating a culture that is understanding and accepting of differences is a way of creating flexibility and resiliency in the workforce. People who hold these values are able to exert patience and adapt to different situations.


Recruit Bi- or Multilingual Employees

Make it clear on job descriptions that you’re particularly interested in people who have the skills the role requires and are also bi- or multilingual. Having people in the office who can speak multiple languages can help with communication among employees, customers and vendors. Alternatively, offer corporate sponsorship of language learning opportunities to upskill staff members who want to learn a new language.


Launch Cultural Awareness Trainings

Once a quarter, launch a cultural awareness training to get everyone on the same page with any holidays or observances that may be coming up. In a respectful way, educate your team on different customs and how they’ll be managed in the workplace. It’s also a good time to tackle any language barriers. Encourage people to speak directly without the use of colloquialisms or pop culture references. Utilise the knowledge of your multilingual employees.


Be Clear About Boundaries

Make the hierarchy and communication standards very clear among the whole team. Different cultures view authority in different ways, so make sure everyone understands what authority means in your organisation. Additionally, do regular check-ins to make sure employees understand how to communicate with their managers and leaders if they have questions, concerns or ideas.


Lead by Example

Check your own biases and behaviours to make sure you’re being what you’re asking your employees to be. It’s normal to have unconscious biases, but make sure you’re being aware of them. Work to overcome them so that you can set the example. Company culture is fed by the examples of leaders. No matter how many posters you hang in the office displaying the company values. If the leaders aren’t living them, neither will the employees.

If you’re looking for help managing your team, OLAM Group is here. We are your outsourced HR experts and can help with HR projects or ongoing services, depending on your company’s needs. Please reach out to schedule a call so we can talk about how we can help you and your company run more smoothly.