Helping students settle in

Tips to help you get the best from international student workers.

Understanding different attitudes and communicating carefully will help you get the best from international student employees.

They may well be used to quite different ways of working. For instance – your new employee may come from a culture where it’s normal to be told exactly what to do at work. Or, they may be used to much more formal relationships with bosses than we’re used to.

Here are a few tips to help your international student workers to get an understanding of how workplaces operate in New Zealand:

  • Talk them through their employment agreement and explain things like how and when they will be paid, their hours of work, the timing of breaks, etc.
  • Be prepared initially to give them more direction than you might normally
  • Consider putting information about how you operate in writing and providing a written list of tasks for each day
  • Ask another staff member to act as ‘buddy’ for a few days so they can explain things

You and your Kiwi employees should bear in mind that the way New Zealanders speak can be different from the formal English international students may have learned – particularly our slang words and jargon.

When speaking to international students it’s a good idea to:

  • Slow down a little and pause more
  • Use simple, direct language and explain any jargon or workplace-specific words
  • Be clear when giving instructions then check their understanding by asking them what they are going to do first.

Remember, just because someone has a strong accent, it doesn’t mean they have poor English skills or can’t do the job.

Immigration New Zealand has produced resources to help improve communication between employers and workers, check out our WorkTalk tool and the Immigration New Zealand website.