Hiring employees from abroad: What you should keep in mind
On the one hand, it is crucial to be aware of formal requirements, which may differ depending upon whether the new employee is from the EU or from third countries. EU citizens have the freedom of establishment and do not need any permits by public authorities to work in Austria. In contrast, citizens of third countries need the so-called Red-White-Red Card. "The procedure to obtain the card should be handled by the company here together with the responsible office of the Aliens Police", recommends Ulrike Klingenschmid, representative for expats at the provincial development agency ITG – Innovationsservice für Salzburg. "This not only applies for the person who is being hired but, where appropriate, also to the person's partner. The situation that a person who is already beginning here has to take care of everything alone in addition to her or his job whereas the rest of the family still has to stay in the country of origin for months on end is not a good prerequisite for being integrated here". Generally speaking, all incoming staff require a Red-White-Red Card, and the family members a Red-White-Red Card Plus. In order to obtain one, they have to achieve a specified number of points. Points are allocated for criteria such as qualifications, language skills in German and English and professional experience. Moreover, there are also various categories which are evaluated individually e.g. key employees, specialists included in the nationwide list of shortage occupations, startups and other similar groups. However, on balance, only highly qualified individuals are granted the Red-White-Red Card.
Successful social life
The importance of expats getting used to life in the local area is something which should not be underes-timated. "Only when the people can integrate themselves after a certain time, settle down and have a social network will they end up staying there", Klingenschmid knows. When a company has found the long sought-after specialist, it would be advised to support the employee in this regard, to ensure that the working relationship can be permanently sustained. "The easiest step is naturally to at least establish contacts to regional authorities on behalf of expats who will help them with this. In Salzburg, the respon-sible body is ITG – Innovationsservice für Salzburg, as well as information portals such as www.welcome-to-salzburg.at, Facebook groups or the like. Here there is usually information materials which one can hand over to the new employee." Joint company events or a buddy system can also support the new employee to settle down and feel at home, but of course this presupposes the existence of a suitable corporate culture. Furthermore, integration must also succeed outside of the company. An awareness on the part of Austrian employees how difficult it is to understand German when spoken quickly should be cultivated, especially in companies where English is not the everyday language at work. The Austrian dialect is a further obstacle. "A fundamental thoughtfulness practised and demanded of all, especially at the highest level, is essential to successfully working together. For example, one can hold important meetings in English, or at least speak more slowly or in High German, and confirm that one has been said was also understood without acting arrogantly", Klingenschmid advises. "Intercultural training can also be of assistance."
Don't forget the family
In the light of all these things to consider, the employee's partner should not be neglected. If she or he does not feel at ease in the long run, this will also turn out to be a reason to move somewhere else. Klingenschmid states: "Offers from the company, whether a German language course or joint sporting events, can involve partners as well and thus make a contribution in this regard." Dual career possibilities are becoming increasingly popular. In particular, highly qualified individuals often have partners who also strive to pursue their own careers sooner or later. Large companies find it easier to kill two birds with one stone, namely to lure two well-educated professionals to the company all at once and at the same time supporting the integration of both people at the location.
Look for support from service centres
Temporary housing is also helpful. It is a difficult challenge to find suitable accommodations at the re-spective place of work if one is abroad. "Several companies make apartments available for the first few months, which give expats the flexibility to search for something on their own. If this is not possible, at least support in finding a place to live is something the expats want."
Help can also be offered at the employee's place of residence. Especially in rural regions, it would be good if there was a contact person for expats in the community, according to Klingenschmid. This person should be able to explain all important points in English. "There is certainly a need to catch up here and in other areas", Klingenschmid says. "With regard to Salzburg, we are in the midst of expanding our welcome service, also to provide support to companies and municipalities in greeting and accepting expatri-ates. The main recipe for successfully feeling comfortable at work and in one's private life is a mutual understanding of the challenges involved. If this exists, a solution can be found for everything", she concludes.
Read also our article about Expats: Secondment Of Employees