Research and the personal experiences of international employees at Muova, highlight benefits from an organizational perspective as well as an individual perspective.
Advantages for organizations:
“I believe that Internationality can add quality to the development of projects. However, this only works if everyone understands the value of internationality. I feel that Muova recognises this very well and shows great flexibility and enthusiasm in welcoming international people.“João Pereira, Interaction designer
A work environment comprising people from many cultures increases diversity in the work an organization can accomplish. Having a culturally diverse workplace can lead to a broad-minded approach that is not biased towards one particular region or culture. People from different parts of the world can come together and make the workplace more inspiring by bringing in diverse cultural perspectives.
“I am very proud of our fantastic international team in Muova. Together we have a passion for our work, and the different cultural aspects add multiple layers and viewpoints to the day-to-day work”.Annika Hissa, Director
An international workforce comprised of individuals with divergent backgrounds can offer new ways of thinking and fresh perspectives. Blending a variety of concepts and experiences generates unique ideas which can take an organization to new heights.
”On the organisational level, cultural differences enforce openness and empathy among colleagues as they need to demonstrate common and respectful attitudes and behaviours towards each other. This significantly enhances creativity and innovation. One native may share similar views with other natives, but one international working with the same group of natives may bring new views and help the team discover more ideas”.Thu Vo, International Project Officer
In an international workforce where people come together from different places of origin, there is a common underlying need for each person to feel understood. In the process of making ourselves heard, we can become more empathic and considerate by listening to others and making them feel heard as well. This common understanding boosts organizational collaborations.
“I think an international team is greater than the sum of each member’s input. But, of course, the international members of our team were not hired because of their nationalities, but simply because each one of them was the best candidate for the position”.Annika Hissa
International staff also help Muova to expand its professional network. “International staff help a company reach more people who share similar backgrounds, such as international students, specialists and professionals. Hence, they help expand the company’s network at different levels and improve the company’s profile in the wider world, especially when a company wants to go international or attract foreign investment. If a company does not recognise the value of internationality, it might negatively impact its reputation. ” -Thu Vo
Advantages for employees:
“I am originally from India and being in MUOVA has been an amazing opportunity for me to connect with like-minded people from different parts of the world. I feel there is a lot of room for exploring my field of work, and personal growth.”Srushti Shah, Project manager
Working with people from other cultures on a daily basis makes us more sensitive to cultural differences, helps us to better understand unfamiliar perspectives, and cultivates open-mindedness for welcoming innovation.
”In an international environment, there is a special curiosity to know more about each other, leading to an exchange of experiences. And this is an amazing way to learn more about different cultures and perhaps open doors to new project ideas.”João Pereira
Communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds helps build interpersonal skills when we make a conscious effort to understand differing points-of-view and establish connections. We move out of our comfort zones so that we can effectively communicate with colleagues.
Having an international work environment helps people to empathize with each other as they recognize the common factor of ’being international’. Having this empathy and understanding towards colleagues encourages respect for one another’s thoughts and opinions and enhances collaboration among team members.
‘’In Western Finland, Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking Finns already speak English to each other in many instances. Creating English-speaking or English-optional workplaces opens up opportunities for local people as well as immigrants.’’Carmen Vendelin-Laukkanen, Project specialist, international projects
Additionally, experiencing work life in Finland integrates international workers into Finnish society. ‘’On the social level, hiring foreign employees aids in their social inclusion in the host country and ultimately in better social well-being as foreigners feel increasingly that they belong and can contribute. ”Thu Vo
We know from working on projects at Muova and from personal experience that it is not always easy for international people to find meaningful, suitable employment in Finland. Finnish language skills are a major hurdle for many otherwise highly-qualified jobseekers.[i] Immigration is a relatively new phenomenon in Finland and many businesses have yet to realize how they might benefit from an international workforce and how they can recruit and cultivate a multicultural team. At Muova, international staff help the organization to innovate, diversify and see solutions from new angles.
[i] Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (VAMK). (2021) MentoraSTEAM, Boosting Migrant Women’s Employability in the STEAM Sector. Policy Framework: Main Lessons Learned During Focus Groups. Project intellectual output IO1. Discussed in ‘’MentoraSTEAM: Boosting Migrant Women’s Employability in the STEAM Sector: Take-aways from the focus groups’’ (2021), text by Carmen Vendelin-Laukkanen and Thu Vo, Energiaa. http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe2021061838731