A global business guide to international company culture

July 2023

In a post-COVID, globalised world, businesses are more interconnected than ever, expanding their reach beyond borders and building global teams. To keep operations as dynamic and productive as possible, cultivating a strong international company culture is a priority for global companies. In this blog post, we'll explore the significance of culture in international business and why it’s crucial for global companies to invest in this area. 

A business’s culture is the underlying fabric that influences how its employees behave, communicate, and work together. In an international company, culture is even more important due to the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of employees across different locations.  


A company’s culture encompasses everything from communication styles, decision-making processes, business etiquette, and shared values and behaviours. When you bring culture to a global workforce, it presents unique challenges, including language barriers, different social norms, business protocols, and communication styles.  


Recognising and navigating these challenges is important for global companies to thrive. What’s more, investing in cross-culture aspects in international business can offer a number of benefits: 


1) Employee engagement: A cohesive culture aligns its employees around shared values and creates a sense of unity and purpose. When employees feel connected to the company's culture, they are more engaged and motivated to work to a high level.  


2) Effective collaboration: Cultural differences can easily impact communication styles. However, a strong international culture promotes understanding and empathy among employees. Collaboration is an essential part of business success, and when employees can effectively communicate through cultural barriers, great work can happen. 


3) Talent attraction and retention: A positive international company culture serves as a magnet for top talent. A reputation for an inclusive and supportive culture attracts skilled professionals who are seeking a diverse and enriching work environment.  


Building a strong company culture is challenging for any HR team, but it becomes even more complex when your organisation is dispersed around the world. Here are some considerations and steps to take when building your own company’s international culture.  
Start by defining the core values for your employees to follow that align with the company's mission and vision. These values should be adaptable to different cultures but should have a strong foundation to guide workers in the right direction. 
Great organisations make diversity and inclusion a priority in every area of their operations. Encourage employees from various cultural backgrounds to share their perspectives, ideas, and experiences. Include cultural sensitivity training for all employees, so teams can feel comfortable exchanging ideas and backgrounds together. These contrasting ideas can be a great catalyst for growth and creativity – it’s important that everyone feels comfortable sharing.   
While you may look forward to Halloween and Christmas parties every year, other countries and cultures may mark and celebrate in each season differently. Take the time to localise your cultural initiatives and events to cater to the unique needs of employees in different regions. Consider adapting your policies to respect and embrace local customs and norms, rather than shying away from them. 
Set the example and provide comprehensive cross-cultural training programs for employees who regularly engage in international projects. These training sessions should offer guidance on cultural etiquette, communication norms, and business practices in relevant specific countries or regions. This will enhance relationships and minimise potential misunderstandings between team members. 

Your organisation’s leaders play a vital role in setting the tone for your international company culture. They should exemplify your organisation’s cultural values, demonstrate inclusivity, and communicate effectively across cultural boundaries. Feedback is an important part of setting an example as a leader. Ensure your senior management team actively and regularly seeks feedback and addresses any cultural challenges that arise.  


Cultivating a strong international company culture is essential for global businesses to thrive. By recognising the importance of culture in international business and proactively addressing cross-cultural challenges, organisations can boost their adaptability and enjoy a more creative workforce


With Allianz Partners, we know the importance of looking after your business’s international employees. Whether you employ teams on short-term assignments, or you need to look after a large international department, there’s a plan to help your employees feel safe and secure. Explore our range of international healthcare options and see which one is best for you.