cultural differences

We have some employees in the U.S. and almost as many in the UK who are all part of the same team. Those in the UK get many more paid holidays and tend to work somewhat shorter days than the U.S. employees, or at least that's how the U.S. people perceive it. The U.S. workers complain that they do much more work than their UK counterparts and must pick up the slack for the slackers, so to speak. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to handle this difficulty?

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  • This also raises the issue you have with ex-pats who go from the U.S. to other countries to work. For instance, an ex-pat being paid based on U.S. salaries and bonus with stipends for expenses has a much higher income than local employees based in China or India for instance. This can cause hard feels as well.

  • [quote user="Catbert2"]We have some employees in the U.S. and almost as many in the UK who are all part of the same team. Those in the UK get many more paid holidays and tend to work somewhat shorter days than the U.S. employees, or at least that's how the U.S. people perceive it. The U.S. workers complain that they do much more work than their UK counterparts and must pick up the slack for the slackers, so to speak. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to handle this difficulty?[/quote] [emphasis added]

    I don't think you can deal with this effectively until you understand how close perception and reality are.  Do the UK employees get more holiadys and work fewer hours?  If so, then you can address it with a straight face.  If not, you can address the problem of incorrect perceptions.

  • There are going to be cultural & work-ethic differences between countries.  I too often hear similar rumors from my <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />US folks about the UK.  You may find it beneficial to conduct brief cultural training for your different locations (maybe add it to another training or on-boarding program).  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

  • I lived and worked in the UK for three years (just returned to the US 1 1/2 yr ago).  I worked in HR for the US Federal government.  There were also many British nationals working in my office who worked under UK laws (actually more Brits than Americans).  It is not just a perception that workers in the UK work shorter hours in a work week.  The standard work week is 38 hours.  I also found that the UK workers were much less willing/likely to stay later, even to finish pressing projects.  That is not to say they didn't do their jobs, just less likely to find American style work-a-holics!  The UK actually only has 8 federal holidays, whereas the US has 10 federal holidays.   http://www.berr.gov.uk/employment/bank-public-holidays/http://www.opm.gov/Operating_Status_Schedules/fedhol/2008.asp .  In my experience, it is common for British employers to offer additional personal holidays in addition to vacation time.  That said, US workers in my office also made higher salaries than their British counterparts doing the same jobs.  I think these issues will always come up when you deal with different cultures and employment laws.  I mean, the British workers also get 6 months paid maternity leave!  Better to address it in terms of UK employment practices and law.  These are the rules the UK folks are employed under.

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