How an Employee’s Culture Affects Their Motivation

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As you know, your employees do not fit inside of a “one size fits all” mold. When you add in cultural differences for those employees born or raised in another region or country, the contrasts can be stark. Knowing how to engage with your employees to ensure they are properly motivated for peak job performance can really make a difference for both your company and your employees. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your multicultural workforce:

  • Set expectations and do not assume they know U.S. standards. It is important not to assume that your employees are comfortable with the standards we may take for granted in the U.S. Be sure to explain your expectations clearly. Whatever your desires as a manager, communicate those clearly. Employees from other cultures may have such respect for their managers that they feel complaining is inappropriate and a sign of disloyalty. If you expect feedback for improvement, make sure your employee knows you want to hear from him/her and to bring issues to your attention.

BONUS TIP #1! Not everyone will feel comfortable speaking up in an open-forum type of meeting, especially if they are not completely confident in their English-language skills. A Hispanic employee, for example, may be hesitant to share opinions in this type of setting for fear of perceived confrontation or disrespect for management. If you are looking for feedback on ways to improve certain areas of your company’s culture, you may have more luck with one-on-one conversations with these employees.

  • Employee recognition preferences vary from culture to culture. In the U.S., we often recognize individuals directly for their performance and contributions. Titles like “Employee of the Month” work well for American or Australian employees, for example, but they can lead to embarrassment for employees from Asian cultures who prefer to be praised as part of a team.
  • Figure out what is important to the employee, and base incentives on this. Many American and Asian employees prioritize their career accomplishments and advancements first and may be incentivized more by monetary bonuses or the possibility of a promotion. However, employees from other cultures, like Western Europe, often prioritize family time, so they may be more motivated by the ability to earn extra vacation days or time off than the typical American or Asian worker. That’s not to say that both incentives won’t work for all employees in different scenarios, but it’s important to recognize that some incentives may work better over others for your multicultural workforce.

BONUS TIP # 2! Survey your employees. Finding the best ways to motivate your employees is difficult sometimes. If you are able to survey your employees anonymously to find out what would work best in your particular company, this may be highly effective for you. It is also a sign to your employees that you care about them and want only the best for them.