Welcome Culture for International Employees
Arriving well! - A concept of the new welcome culture for the life partners of internationally active employees.
Under this slogan, a Business Forum on "The Welcome Culture for International Employees" was held on 6th October 2014 in Berlin. “Welcome to Berlin”, the Diplomatic Club attached to the Foreign Office in Berlin, was invited to present its concept of giving care and support to the life partners of diplomats.
Representatives of authorities, business, science and universities discussed under which conditions new international staff would be happy to come to Berlin and how attractive is the location Berlin in general. All participants agreed that it is becoming increasingly important to take into account the individual life perspective of employees, in order to recruit qualified personnel and keep them over a longer period of time. This applies equally to the staff of the Foreign Office and the Diplomatic Service - Berlin is everywhere, so to speak.
Employees operating internationally are attaching more and more emphasis, beyond their actual jobs, on combining the choice of the place with the life planning of the partner and the family. The professional activity and development possibility of the partner (dual career) are just as much a focus as the well-being of the entire ‘family system’. The involvement in cultural activities at the place of residence, new social contacts, as well as a suitable school and university environment, are nowadays fundamental factors, to take a job or not. Thus, the support given to the partner and the family in settling in, becomes a central criterion also for the employer in attracting qualified personnel.
As for the partner, the provision of job opportunities, as well as questions concerning residence permit and the recognition of professional qualifications, play a major role. Especially the procedures for the recognition of qualifications can be time-consuming that may hinder the work of the partner, in particular, during short-term assignments. Therefore, a close cooperation between the employer and the authorities is necessary.
There is now in Berlin for children a wide range of schools and educational opportunities with internationally recognized qualifications that allow access to secondary schools or universities.
For the involvement of the spouse in the cultural scene and for establishing social contacts, the economy felt far less responsible.
For 'Arriving Well”, only the hard facts were of relevance, mainly the housing and school search.
Certainly these hard facts are of great importance for integrating into a new living environment and for the well-being at a new place, yet it is almost equally important for the partner to find social connection in a new, often also foreign-language environment. In this field, Welcome to Berlin is engaging itself already since 15 years by creating a comprehensive programme for newcomers to find their way around Berlin, as well as providing an intellectual environment for members to meet others, who are in similar life situation.
The concept of Welcome to Berlin, to care for the partners of accredited diplomats in Germany, was acknowledged at the Forum “Arrive well” as a model. The members of Welcome to Berlin - wives of the Foreign Office staff and Berlin ladies - organise their work respectively: With 38 different activity groups covering a wide variety of topics, such as literature and conversation groups in 7 different languages, groups in art, museum, history, sports, computer, choir, as well as groups in which Berlin and Germany are presented, and much, much more...
Arriving well" is not the only priority for the honorary active members of Welcome to Berlin, but we look after the diplomatic members during their entire length of stay in Berlin. Our goal is to create a liveable culture of welcome for the partners. Our diplomatic members shall feel comfortable here, and shall bring along friendly and meaningful memories of Berlin and Germany back home or to their next postings.
German text: Dr. Sonja von Goetze
English translation: Linda Mei-Ying Ruediger