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Improving Process Visibility for International Employees

Bridge Team Member

If you know that your international employees seem confused, frustrated, or disengaged – that’s good news. Not because a poor or non-existent employee experience is good. But because you recognize it and, as the saying goes, “you can only go up from here”.

Part of your challenge in managing this function is undoubtedly lack of time. You’re already so busy that trying to get ahead of immigration questions seems like a luxury. Now is the time to enlist the help of other teams in setting up a communication and information process.

The time invested will result in fewer mistakes, a smoother process, and a better overall employee experience.

How are your Employee Experience initiatives performing?

In a Harvard Business Review survey, the majority of participating executives believed that Employee Experience (EX) initiatives have seen positive results in employee engagement and productivity. And they believe EX will help in employee retention.

So far, so good.

But the same survey reports that less than one third (31%) of participants stated that employee experience is a priority at their organizations. How do you bridge that gap for international employees?

What does process visibility have to do with EX?

Quite a bit, actually. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) maintains a chart of historical monthly processing times for a number of immigration-related forms. The rates of processing can vary widely from year to year. Some forms seem to have shorter processing times while others consistently take months or even years to process.

It’s important to provide employees with realistic and easily understood scenarios of their sponsorship process. But there’s a second part that’s also crucial to improving the process for both employee and employer – ensuring they understand that they’re not on this journey alone. That’s where the EX part of the equation comes into play.

Employees who have both a solid understanding of the process AND who believe they have the support of their employer are generally going to have more confidence in the process – and their employer.

Build trust

Going through an immigration process in a new country with a new organization probably feels like an overwhelming process for the international employee as well as their family. What can you do to create trust and build relationships with your employees to alleviate some of that anxiety?

  • Be honest and transparent
  • Say what you’re going to do and do what you say
  • Provide interpreters and translated materials if needed
  • Include partners and dependents into the process and let them know what they can do to help
  • Connect them with other employees who’ve completed the process

Communicate

In this case, information overload may not be a bad thing. Build answers to immigration questions into new hire processes.

  • Include a section about your general immigration policy on your website for potential and current employees. Explain the process in clear and concise language. If possible, include related language translations. Record a video with graphics that address common questions.
  • Send international employees welcome guides that outline the process. Include checklists with important milestones and action items.
  • Provide more detailed information during your onboarding process. Schedule individual and group time with a company representative or immigration team to discuss the program and answer questions.
  • Create an email campaign. Write a series of emails with responsibilities and milestones that are sent at appropriate intervals to remind employees of action items due. Use it also as an opportunity to reinforce engagement. These can be sent by an assistant or automated to free up People Operations time.

Be empathetic

Gallup advises companies to - “Focus on human experiences over processes.” Everyone is experiencing a lot of emotions as a result of the pandemic and change fatigue. Today’s workforce seems uncertain which causes all of us to ask a lot of questions. International employees going through the immigration process may be even more stressed than usual as they try to understand and navigate the complex process.

The solution for many People Operations issues is taking proactive measures, especially for teams preparing for rapid growth. The immigration process is not that much different. Engaging and involving your international employees from early on will prevent misunderstanding and anxiety and enable your team to start to build an emerging immigration program focused on visibility for all stakeholders.


Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.

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