Foreigners working in Vietnam: challenges to overcome

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Nowadays, Vietnam is the ideal destination for many FDI businesses to choose because of its rapidly developing economy, convenient character of geography, political stability and a great number of approved free trade policies. However, a great deal of new fields have risen up that made the human resource not meet both the quantity and quality criteria. Therefore, foreign applicants will be a suitable choice for those enterprises. The diversity of nationality and race in workplace helps to raise working efficiency and creative thought for office environment. Nevertheless, the huge challenge for Vietnam is how to make the foreign applicants adapt themselves to Vietnamese culture and the environment here quickly. Due to cultural and social background differences, many international workers get certain difficulties integrating into the local working environment and making connections with local coworkers. We’d like to look at some of the issues that foreigners face when working in Vietnamese workplaces, which we’ve compiled and selected based on the Navigos Group’s report.

  1. Culture shock

According to Navigos Group’s survey, ½ of the foreigners who come to work in Vietnam experienced “culture shock”.

“Culture shock” happens as a result of variations in languages and social perspectives, resulting in a lack of interactions, connections, and feelings of isolation. The social value differences are the factors that cause this “cultural shock.” Accordingly, the top three reasons voted by survey participants are: language barrier (29%), contrasts between expectations and reality in terms of working environment, local culture, relationships (27%), and a lack of understanding (18%).

When being asked how they interpret “cultural shock,” the majority of foreigners said it involves a lack of attachment and support from others. Furthermore, they are having difficulty integrating into the Vietnamese culture and new environment.

These barriers can be reduced if businesses conduct integration training sessions specifically for foreign workers. What has to be trained is how to work with local colleagues, how to connect with an internal help line, how to connect with a network of veteran foreign workers in Vietnam, and where to find language or culture courses.

Vietnamese colleagues, on the other hand, are encouraged to assist international employees in integrating through regular activities at their workplaces.

2. Welfare  

The extraordinary benefits to which foreign workers are now entitled are not necessarily the most important. The expense support for relocating to Vietnam, house rental fees, and expense support for returning to their home nation are the top three most typical perks they receive at present. However healthcare benefits (monthly check-ups, exercise and sport services,…), paid leaves (Annual leave, leaves for personal reasons, working from home days,…), and house renting are the most important benefits they expect.

Even though foreigners are quite satisfied with the benefits and payment policy in Vietnam, most of them believe that the welfare system in their home countries is still better. As a result, in order to recruit and retain these talents in Vietnam, local businesses should be flexible when it comes to providing welfare and benefits to foreign workers.

3. The differences in leadership styles

Even though only half of international workers expect to be promoted and work in Vietnam, they are concerned about the lack of openness and inequality in the local system for evaluating leadership abilities. The priority policy that foreigners receive serves as an impediment to them being considered for promotion.

Foreigners claimed that top-down management was the most accurate description of Vietnam’s management style. In a setting where cultures and nationalities are diverse, a top-down leadership approach is no longer effective.

Corporations can use the empowering manage scheme to build a workspace that maximizes staff capacity. The Bottom-up approach, for example, which focuses solely on the final result and avoids the subtleties is considered a more appropriate approach this case. In order to promote a foreign employee, it is necessary to have open and fair policies. From there, we create a workplace that emphasizes global leadership, cross-cultural collaboration, and long-term sustainability.

 “In the 4.0 Revolution, if we aim to create a diversified working environment and build an interfering corporate culture, foreign employees in an enterprise are necessary” said Mr. Gaku Echizenya, Chief Excutive of Navigos Group, Vietnam. There should be no cultural or working style barrier in the digital transformation period.

Thanh Ngan and TechBiz Team