According to the press release of the Federal Office of Migration, federal, cantonal and communal governments as well as trade associations met on the 30th of october, on the initiative of the Tripartite Agglomeration Conference (TAK), in order to have a Dialog on methods to promote the integration of foreign employees.

The Swiss economy certainly needs employees from abroad, however it is also important that these employees are able to integrate into Switzerland and make it their home. This is not only in the interest for a company, that of course profits from the long term engagement for many reasons like for example the preservation of know-how, but also for the employee to feel comfortable in the new environment.

It is positive that a dialog is taking place involving not just the government, the real integration takes place in every day life, where the employer is a lot more present than the government. An employer not sensitives to the issues that can arise to someone not versed in Switzerland’s every day life may not notice tensions that can arise out of simple misunderstandings. An open dialog between employer and employee must be a first step. I personally always preferred the direct approach, as each firm has its own climate and specialties I have always appreciated an employer giving me a heads up on particularities that I may otherwise not have been aware of.

One example, I usually have an organised chaos on my desk, and like to leave things out in the evening so that I can directly pick up where I have left off the day before. What I didn’t know at the beginning is that a cleaning lady came once a week and also cleaned up desk. Rather annoyed I asked one of my co-workers who had been at my things – who in turn offended snapped back that he didn’t touch anything. So I approached my employer, who said that on Tuesday nights I should clear the desk for the cleaning lady and apologised for not having told me beforehand. Ah I then went to the co-working and rather shamefaced apologised for my accusation. Well long story short, I did not leave behind the best first impression.

Everyone has an every day office story of the sort to tell, but if I imagine how I would have been able to go about it without being fluent in the offices main language? I probably would have ended up seeming more ignorant than I already did. So nowadays when a new co-worker comes into my vicinity, wether local or foreign, I try to take the “newbie” under my wing a bit and give an introduction into the little office peculiarities. Why? Because integrating someone is everybody’s job, not just the governments or big organisations. Integration lets people share an embrace a culture, which in turn stops it from disappearing. It can be an enriching experience for all parties – so forget about exclusion and fear of to many foreigners, let them integrate and learn to enjoy and respect all the strange and wonderful aspects of the culture and the country.