Company cultures and values like to point out that we should all focus on the many things we have in common as employees in a company. However, we should never disregard the things that are different, especially if they are in relation to culture. It’s crucial that we recognize, embrace, and even celebrate each other’s’ cultures in the office. Here are a few things on the main cultural differences in the workplace.
1. Cultural Differences Can Stem from Different Generations
You might not have thought about it in this way so far, but it’s true. The advent of technology has now made the generation gap so wide that it’s an actual cultural divider inside the same country or nation. If you dissect an office, you may very well find employees called baby boomers, which are typically traditionalists. You can also see millennials, those belonging to Generation Y, and Generation X.
Each of them has specific characteristics which lead to them needing to be treated in a different way by their employer. Disregarding these main cultural differences in the workplace can lead to frustration and disappointment.
2. Differences with Regard to Ethnicity
When we think about cultural differences, the principal thing that springs to mind is ethnicity. This criterion, along with national original can produce said distinctions, such as language barriers, the way in which people work, process emotions or relate to other people.
The key here is to understand your employee’s or colleague’s different culture. Different nations around the globe have other ways of understanding time, money, food, the idea of working in a closed space, routine, operating continuously from nine to five and so on.
For example, in some cultures of the world, women do not interact with men in the workplace and will feel bad if you make them do so. In others, women can feel offended if men offer to help. Then there are specific religious holidays which you have to accommodate, such as Diwali for Hindus, Ramadan for Muslims, and Yom Kippur for Jews.
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3. Differences in Personal Background
Another source of cultural background stems from where your employee comes. To be more accurate, it depends if your worker comes from a small town or a large one. If he or she is from New York, for example, then one might assume they are accustomed to a very busy and speedy lifestyle. They can work fast and until long hours of the night simply because they were born and raised in such an environment where they had to be quick to survive.
On the other hand, an employee coming from a very tiny and quiet town somewhere in the background of America might not feel or act in the same way. They may be slower in doing their job. Plus, they need a period of adapting to the new course of life. Some never actually do adjust and have to go back to their previous existence.
Here are three primary sources that sprout cultural differences in the workplace. However, whether it’s ethnicity, personal background or the generation gap, you need to know how to handle them. Show empathy toward the employees but without damaging your business at the same time.