Settling migrant staff into your team
By Teaghan Lourie
4 April 2018
Moving to a new country can be daunting, no doubt about it.
I’m about to relocate to the United Kingdom to take up a role on a dairy farm with my partner Gregg and it got me thinking about how we help our migrant staff settle into Kiwi culture.
Are we doing enough to help them adjust?
I know many of you are doing a great job at this, but I was curious to find out first hand from a migrant what they found helped them the most.
I spoke to Roger O’Donnell who relocated from Ireland to Canterbury in 2013 to work on Carmen Ryan and Chris Hanrahan’s farm in Dunsandel.
Roger said having a supportive employer made all the difference to helping him settle in.
“I was very lucky the guys I landed with were really good. They took me grocery shopping on the first day and set up my bank account and IRD number before I started. I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do otherwise. They even had a car I could use,” he said.
“If it was anyone’s birthday, or if someone was leaving, they’d throw a party. It was really thoughtful and helped bring us all together.”
His boss also encouraged him to get off farm, see the sights, get involved in sport and groups to meet new people and experience New Zealand. Roger joined the local touch team, Young Farmers and has tried to get around parts of the country.
“Carmen always said ‘there’s more to New Zealand than this farm’. It’s so easy to not make an effort and stick on your own, but it’s worth it in the end. I’ve meet people from all over the world – Ireland, England, Germany, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. That’s what’s great about working in dairy, there’s so much diversity.”
I asked Roger what advice he had for employers to help their migrant staff settle in.
“Let them know when their first pay day will be, advise them how far the farm is from town and where the best places to go shopping are.”
It’s the little things like that which make all the difference.
Some other gestures I know that really make a difference to welcoming new staff include introducing them to the neighbours and giving them maps of the local area with important locations, such as the medical centre, post office, bank and AA centre, marked.
We all know that moving to a new place brings with it highs and lows in the beginning as you adjust to a new way of life, new road rules, bank systems and tax laws. It will take time to settle in.
My advice is keep an eye on your new employee to make sure they’re coping with the transition. Remember, the more support you can give them, the happier they’ll be, the better they’ll integrate with your team, and ultimately the better it will be for you too.
For more information about how you can help migrant staff settle in visit dairynz.co.nz/immigration or immigration.govt.nz.
Teaghan Lourie – Consulting Officer North and Coastal Canterbury.
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