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The one thing that’s forgotten when recruiting internationally

In the dynamic landscape of today’s global workforce, the quest for top talent often goes beyond geographical borders. We recently collaborated with a multinational organisation based in the Netherlands that faced a common challenge—after expanding their talent search globally, they discovered that success in international recruitment did not guarantee a harmonious workplace. Despite successfully hiring individuals from diverse corners of the world, the organisation found itself struggling with issues that went beyond finding the right person for the job.

Organisational culture

The story unfolded when it became apparent that the organisational culture was not set-up to embrace this newfound diversity. Gaps in the onboarding process, as well as shortcomings in organisational and societal integration support, created an environment where cultural and linguistic differences became barriers rather than assets. Dutch colleagues, unintentionally acting in exclusionary ways, resisted speaking English in informal settings, inadvertently limiting collaboration within the organisation.

Bridging the Cultural Gap

The belief that new hires should adapt to the established way of doing things continued, despite efforts to enroll colleagues in Dutch or English language courses. This well-intentioned approach failed to consider the time required for language acquisition and the need for a supportive environment to practise and build confidence. The result was a growing divide in cultural and linguistic understanding, leading to frustration and, ultimately, talented individuals leaving the organisation. This then thrust the organisation back into the war-for-talent they were trying to get away from.

The Cost of Cultural Dissonance

Unfortunately, the repercussions were not limited to talent loss. The organisation found itself caught in the cycle of recruitment, with the average cost of a recruiter in the Netherlands averaging 20-30% of the recruited person’s first year salary. Beyond the financial aspect, the failure to develop an inclusive culture meant missing out on the significant human and financial benefits that diversity can bring.

Our Approach: Developing Intercultural Competence

This is where our work comes in. We specialise in addressing challenges like these by emphasising the development of not only language and communication skills but, crucially, intercultural competence. We firmly believe that by fostering a workplace culture that embraces diversity and inclusion, organisations can position themselves for a future that leverages the richness of global perspectives.

Empower Your Team

Explore our intercultural competence training options to equip your team with the skills needed to navigate the complexities of a diverse workforce. Contact us today, and let’s work together to future-proof your organisation and unleash the full potential of your global team.


Paul Van Zanten
Paul is an American intercultural communications professional living in the Netherlands and connecting with his Dutch roots. With a passion for travel, as well as gaining new perspectives and experiences, Paul aims to further his growth, as well as that of others at Language Partners.

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