Ireland is a beautiful country with a magnificent scenery of the Atlantic coastline that faces a 2,000-mile wide expanse of ocean with its capital being Dublin (Ranelagh et al, 2019). Its geographic isolation has helped it to develop a rich heritage of culture and tradition that was linked initially to the Gaelic language (Ranelagh et al, 2019). Ireland is a big attraction for many multinational companies as Irelands strategic European base is pro-business and has attractive taxation rates (“Connect Ireland,” n.d.). Ireland is about improving the quality of life and looks to expand with international companies and is great for expatriates as they are always looking for talent and innovation. Many known operations are now internationally based in Ireland due to the great opportunities and advances that are available, such as Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook (“Connect Ireland,” n.d.). Above all, it is easy to feel at home in Ireland as the Irish are very welcoming and it is fairly easy to make friends so it is hard to feel lonely when in Ireland.
Irelands International Experience Canada (IEC)
Ireland has a highly skilled, educated and multicultural population. It has a growing economy that is one of the most competitive in the world and offers new employment opportunities in a range of sectors. The unemployment rate is only 6.3%, 3 points below the Eurozone average of 9.1% (Statistics Canada, 2019, para. 07).
To work in Ireland under the Working Holiday and Internship Program, you must be a Canadian citizen between the ages of 18 to 35 years old and have a valid Canadian passport. There are two types of working visas that you can apply for but you only need to apply for one, they include, the Working Holiday Authorization, which does not require a formal job or internship offer and is for young Canadians who want to travel to Ireland and work temporarily to help finance their trip or there is the International Co-op/Internship Authorization, which does require a pre-arranged contract of employment or a formal internship and is for registered students at a post-secondary institution who want to complete a paid work placement or internship in Ireland (Statistics Canada, 2019). Applicants can participate in each category once with a total stay and work in Ireland of up to 36 months with the Working Holiday visa lasting up to 24 months and the International Co-op/ Internship Authorization lasting up to 12 months (Statistics Canada, 2019).
The climate in Ireland is known to be warm and humid. In the summer, it’s a warm cool temperature, with the average reaching from 16 up to 20 degrees Celsius (“Ireland,” n.d.) Spring and Fall are very mild, with rainfall on most days. In the winter months, snow is rare, and the temperature rarely reaches below zero degrees Celsius. The average temperature during winter in Ireland can range from 4 to 6 degrees Celsius (“Ireland,” n.d.). Irelands climate can be summed up as being mild, moist and changeable with an abundance of rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes but is subject to severe damage if windstorms reach a high level (“Education in Ireland,” n.d.). Their climate is relatively due to the effects of the Atlantic Gulf Stream. They say that if you’re lucky, you can even experience all four seasons in the one day (“Education in Ireland,” n.d.).My recommendations for an expatriate traveling to Ireland with regards to the climate would be to pack light to medium clothing, such as t-shirts, long sleeves, sweaters, jeans, and jogging pants with comfortable shoes. In consideration of the rainfall all year round, rainwear of your choice is essential, such as a windbreaker, raincoat, rain boots, jacket and/or umbrella are all great items to bring along.
The time difference from Thunder Bay to Ireland is five hours. Prior to departure it is important for an expatriate and the business headquarters to be aware of the time difference, realizing that Ireland is five hours ahead of Thunder Bay. An expatriate needs to be aware so they can be prepared for the sleeping differences between hours and if they are to land in Ireland by a specific time, they would need to consider the difference between times and when you will arrive. As well as knowing what time it is when needing to get in contact with one another during the assignment. When it comes to punctuality in Ireland, the Irish are not very time conscious and may not be punctual for business and social meetings. They have a relaxed sense of time and may be a little late for meetings (“eDiplomat,” 2019). However, a foreigner should be on time for business meetings, that includes expatriates.
Ireland’s economic freedom score is 80.5, making its economy the 6th freest in the 2019 Index (“2019 Index of Economic Freedom,” 2019). The Irish economy has registered impressive growth, but the government faces many economic policy challenges (“2019 Index of Economic Freedom,” 2019). In addition to the government debt being high, and the banking system is still burdened with hefty residential property mortgage arrears and impaired loans to small and medium-size enterprises (“2019 Index of Economic Freedom,” 2019.) However, low corporate taxes and a talented high-technology labor pool attract foreign multinationals, and Ireland’s strong economic fundamentals are undergirded by solid protection of property rights and an independent judiciary that safeguards the rule of law (“2019 Index of Economic Freedom,” 2019).
In Ireland, the national courts are responsible for determining allegations of human rights violations (“Irish Human Rights,” n.d.). Although Ireland has ratified a number of international human rights treaties, under Irish law, an individual can only engage the protections afforded under human rights law that has been incorporated into national law, such as for example the rights protected under, the Irish Constitution, the European Convention of Human Rights Acts 2003 and 2014, and where EU law is applicable, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (“Irish Human Rights,” n.d.). This is because the Irish Constitution states that “no international agreement shall be part of the domestic law of the State save as may be provided by the Oireachtas” (“Irish Human Rights,” n.d.).
Safety & Security
Ireland is not known to be dangerous with a low crime rating. Most visitors to Ireland experience no difficulties during their stay (“Foreign Travel,” n.d.), keeping in mind for an expatriate that there is an area that is known to have, if any, the most incidents to occur, which is located in the Dublin area of Ireland. Precautions are similar to Thunder Bay but not exactly the same, for instance, trying to avoid carrying valuables and large sums of money around, properly securing your vehicle, protecting your bag from being taken or your pockets from being picked, along with parking in secure parking spaces where possible to stay safe (“Foreign Travel,” n.d.).
Additionally, it is important for an expatriate to know that even though Ireland is known to be a fairly safe country, terrorism can occur and has occurred in a number of European countries (Statistics Canada, 2019). Expatriates should always be aware of their surroundings, keeping in mind the targeted places known for terrorism such as, government building, including schools, places of worship, airports and other transportation hubs and networks, and public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners (Statistics Canada, 2019). It is advised that expatriates avoid large gatherings and to pay attention to the media to know what’s going on in Ireland. Ireland does have support and assistance services available if needed. For emergency services you call 112, or they have an Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) that offers free support and practical help to victims of crime. This includes liaison with travel companies and financial institutions and, in emergency situations, arranging accommodation, meals and transport (“Foreign Travel,” n.d.).
Business Etiquette and Hierarchy
The Irish are known to be hard workers but not workaholics and place a high importance on their social lives than on their work life. The standard Irish workday is from 9 am until 5:30 pm with a minimum half-hour lunch period and a workweek consisting of 40 hours with a legal maximum of 48 hours (“Globalization,” n.d.). Many offices, including government departments, are closed between 12:30 and 2 pm, apart from providing additional compensation to employees required to work on Sundays (“Globalization,” n.d.).
Expatriates planning on doing business in Ireland will find that a welcoming and friendly work environment awaits them (“Expat Arrivals,” 2019). The Irish speak Gaelic, but English is their main form of language, so it is relatively easy for expatriates to socialize with Irish individuals. Many foreign companies view Ireland as a gateway to the European market (“Expat Arrivals,” 2019). Numerous multinational firms have offices in Ireland, and particularly in Dublin, the country’s commercial and economic center (“Expat Arrivals,” 2019).
Business structures in Ireland are hierarchical and considered to be informal with decisions that are usually made at the top. (“Expat Arrivals,” 2019). Women in the business field are treated equally with many holding high positions, even so, men still dominate the senior positions in a business (“Expat Arrivals,” 2019).
Irish business meetings would consist of meeting at a pub or restaurant than at an office in a room (“Commisceo Global,” n.d.). An Expatriate should know that they should be at a business meeting on time, beginning and ending with a handshake with everyone at the meeting, keeping in mind that personal space is important, as well as eye contact at all times while speaking.
The Irish have turned speaking into an art form (“Commisceo Global,” n.d). Their tendency to be lyrical and poetic has resulted in a verbal eloquence. They use stories and anecdotes to relay information and value a well-crafted message (“Commisceo Global,” n.d.). How you speak says a lot about you in Ireland, this is because how one speaks reflects a lot about one’s personality.
The Irish have a high value on politeness, modesty, honesty, and of course humor. They are verbally indirect individuals that try to avoid conflict, apart from, disliking people who are very loud or boast about themselves (“Commisceo Global,” n.d.). Jokes are used to show their hospitableness and good nature, it’s what they pride themselves on, even if the joke is insulting or teasing one another but avoid talking or joking about politics or religion as it will be seen as negative and can create conflict.
This is all-important for an expatriate to remember. Communication is key in Ireland and if you do not know how to communicate with them or take their jokes personal, not realizing it means a good thing even if it does not sound like it then it can lead to a big communication barrier and make it hard on an expatriate to socialize.
The majority of Ireland is Roman Catholic, 87.4% (“Commisceo Global,” n.d.) to be exact. Catholicism has a very high value to the Irish culture and the relationship with the Saint Brigid’s Cross, constructed by wild reeds to convey the story of Christ’s crucifixion (IB4UD, 2019). There are currently various degrees of Irish culture that they distinguish themselves by which include, their religion, dance music, dress, food, and religious celebrations such as St. Patrick’s Day, their most famous celebration parade that are held in Irish communities around the world (Wilson, 2019). The Pub culture in Ireland is also integral to community life, with public houses seen as places where friends and families can meet and catch-up on each other’s lives and play traditional live music to share with each other.
Sporting traditions and events represent a huge percentage of cultural and national identity in Ireland with the most popular Gaelic game being football and other popular Gaelic games being Hurling, with a female version of the game called Camogie (IB4UD, 2019).
Ireland is seen to be familiar to many visitors when it comes to food habits. They eat with plates and bowls, forks, spoons and knives and eat relatively the same type of foods with some exceptions. Bread is rarely served but if they are, you serve them in a basket, and potatoes are almost always served and placed on a separate small side plate (Marshall, 2018). Ireland has preserved the tradition of abstaining from meat-eating on a Friday for religious purposes, usually replacing meat with fish as the main protein (Marshall, 2018).
This is especially good for an expatriate to know before departure to Ireland. Since the Irish cook a lot with fish, if you are an individual who has allergies to seafood and would not be able to replace meat with fish, this is something to consider depending how severe the allergy is.
The Irish are more relaxed individuals that are pretty easy going and like to be humourous with visitors usually feeling welcomed and at home. However, there are some taboos that would benefit an expatriate from knowing that include, talking with your hands out of your pockets as the Irish would see that as questionable, avoid talking about religion, homosexuality or abortion and avoid calling someone a “mick” as this is considered insulting (Marshall, 2018). At the dinner table, there are no elbows on the table, no smoking at the table, or playing around with your utensils and at a restaurant, the host is supposed to pay for the entire meal (Marshall, 2018).
An expatriate looking to travel alone to Ireland on a two-year assignment would need pre-departure training on Cultural awareness to have a better understanding of Ireland’s culture, as well as enhance culture sensitivity and avoid any cross-cultural misunderstanding. A well-developed Cultural awareness training program would be very beneficial to develop coping patterns for an expatriate, so they are aware of how to behave. An effective approach to use would include role-playing critical incidents, case studies, and sensitivity training.
A preliminary visit is essential as well since it allows for a preview of what they are to expect while providing information that helps in relocation and can help assist in any adjusting if needed before the departure happens. Practical assistance training for pre-departure and on assignment assistance is essential for expatriates to reduce stress and help make them feel at ease during the transition.
Security briefings are important to help with the understanding and preparation of pre-departures and are becoming the most effective practices for expatriates. You want an expatriate to be aware and understand what they are about to embark whether it is good or bad to help avoid culture shock. Above all, expatriates will also partake in a training for trainers which would include role-playing to utilize the knowledge for when the expatriate departs and to know they are ready for departure.
During this process, communication would be present on a weekly basis and is key to a successful assignment, as well as having good corporate social responsibility activities to present a positive image. As an expatriate it is beneficial to engage in support for social causes that are important to Ireland such as behaving ethically, contributing to their economic development and improving the work and marketplace.
A good practice to prevent unethical behavior would include a written Code of conduct outlining unacceptable behaviours and what’s to be done if it is violated. As an expatriate that is involved in managing a subsidiary and training local managers, should lead by example. Employees look to their managers for direction and how they should behave. Treating employees with appreciation can also avoid unethical behaviours and shows the staff that they are valued, but do not hold back if someone needs to be reinforced. If an employee is being unethical, go back to the code of conduct and follow the measures that need to be taken. This may too be avoided through an orientation session informing the new staff of what’s the be expected when you start.
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