Cultural Quick Tips

by Kari Heistad

Cultural Quick Tips (Volume 1)

Understanding and embracing our diverse workplace is a powerful (and oftentimes daunting) concept. Cultural difference should be celebrated! Here are a few tips you can immediately use in your workplace.


Tip 1: Proactive vs. Reactive

Workforces around the world are diversifying daily. Understanding the implications of a diversified workplace or marketplace is critical for any organization.

A company that lacks the ability to attract and retain diverse employees risks dulling its competitive edge. Being proactive about assessing and understanding demographic trends allows an employer to prepare for change rather than react to a trend after the fact.

When a company actively seeks insight on who’s working for them and what this means for diversity and demographic trends, it builds a stronger foundation for addressing issues associated with doing business.

Action Step: List the diversity that exists within your workforce. Make a point to reach out to each of these groups to gain a deeper insight into what they bring to the organization.


Tip 2: Regional Differences

Countries are often treated as one large market by companies that are moving into the area and unaware of regional differences. But in reality, there are strong regional and local differences in what employees and customers want and expect from companies that can impact a company’s success with marketing a product or retaining employees.

When working with a national workforce, an organization should pay attention to issues and concerns that may be important in one part of the country, but not necessarily in another.

Action Step: Chart local and regional differences and how they may impact communication and perceptions among colleagues. Consult with country and regional experts concerning the differences that may impact your marketing and business strategy.


Tip 3: Customs Around Food and Eating

In many cultures, dietary practices are followed year-round, independent of religious holidays. For instance, while most Hindus are vegetarian, some followers eat meat, but generally all avoid beef.

Some Jews, especially members of the Orthodox faith, observe kosher dietary laws, which dictate that pork and shellfish should not be eaten and that other meat and dairy products should not be
prepared or eaten together.

Buddhists generally do not use drugs or alcohol, and many practice vegetarianism.

Muslims may eat meat as long as it is not pork and that it meets halal dietary standards.

Action Step: When planning office celebrations involving food, insure that you have food options that accommodate those with food restrictions.


Tip 4: Connecting to Something Larger

During the holiday season, people often experience the need to connect to something larger than themselves. The link sought may be to family, friends, the local community, people in need, or to all of these.

Unfortunately, the holidays also place heavy demands on people’s time and resources, often leaving them physically and financially exhausted rather than emotionally and spiritually fulfilled.

Having a supportive company culture can help ease the stress of the season for your employees. To create an environment of support, remind managers to practice extra patience with each other and their teams.

Action Step: Be sensitive during the holiday seasons to both the potential stress level employees feel and their desire to connect to something larger. Explore whether employees are interested in reaching out to the local community to help those in need.


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