Working In The UK As A Native French Speaker by SpeakPlus
Nowadays, it is becoming more and more frequent to see professionals travelling abroad with the aim of gaining international experience. At the heart of a globalized economy, many French people, who by geographical proximity and the desire to learn English, have chosen to experience this in the United Kingdom. Before moving to the UK, however, it is necessary to take note of the differences between these two corporate cultures. Knowing this will better facilitate your integration over the Channel.
Legally, the British must work a minimum of 37 hours per week compared to the 35-hour working week in France. A "normal" day for a Briton is from 8:30 am - 9:00 am to about 5:30 pm (even if they do not always have a specific finishing time at the end of the day). The British sometimes leave work earlier than the French: this is due to the fact that they generally take no more than an hour's break for lunch, or they will have lunch at their office. In both cases, supervisors tend to work longer in both countries.
A different way of saying hello to their colleagues
When a French employee arrives at their place of work, chances are he will shake hands with his colleagues or even kiss them. The British do not shake hands with their colleagues when they get to work and will NEVER kiss them on the cheek. Of course, some French do not do this either, but in the UK a simple "Hello!" "Hi!" or "Morning!" is enough. Of course, it is customary to shake hands with a person you meet for the first time.
More relaxed relationships with management
In the UK, relations with managers are often more "casual" than in France. It is not unusual to call a hierarchical superior by his first name. The limit depends of course on the practices of each company. In a formal framework, here is how to address people within the corporate hierarchy:
- If you want to talk to a man, use Mister (Mr.) + last name (whether single or married). Ex: Mr. Davis.
- If you want to talk to a young, single woman, use Miss + surname. Ex: Miss Jones.
- Finally, if you want to address a married woman, use Missus + last name. Ex: Mrs. Carpenter.
Small point of attention: some women do not wish to disclose their marital status. The status "Ms." has therefore been created and any woman can choose this qualifier. It is also used to address older, unmarried or divorced women. So it is therefore advisable to inquire about a woman’s qualifier before approaching her.
Punctuality and interaction: masterpieces for professional meetings
In the United Kingdom, it is very important to participate in meetings and to give your views on the issues addressed. Most often, a person will be in charge of the meeting and will make the final decision. However, not interacting in meetings often results in a negative image of an employee.
Punctuality is always a key value in the UK. Do you have an appointment at 2pm? Be prepared and be there ready at least 5 minutes before the appointment is scheduled to start. Delays are generally not tolerated – you have to be on time to all appointments.
SpeakPlus is a language learning platform designed to connect learners with native and graduate language coaches from around the world. Programs are tailored to the level and objective of the trainee. For example, we can help you prepare your selection interview or teach you to work with foreign colleagues depending on the culture of the country.