Vietnamese Workplaces and Habits

Working - Saigon/HCMC: Feb. 26, 2016

Understanding Vietnamese workplaces is vital for integration and success. Of course, the following are generalisations and stereotypes, but they indicate the behaviours that are fostered in most companies:

- Men continue to dominate the Vietnamese business world, though things are changing.

- Women working in Vietnam traditionally occupy lower-status jobs, but they tend to work harder.

- Most men are able to work with foreign women in more senior roles and will treat them equally.

- Status is an important aspect of Vietnam’s business world and society. It is achieved not through age alone but also through education.

- Companies function in a hierarchical manner.

- Generally speaking, the older generation is more loyal than the younger generations.

- Decisions are made at the top and the decision maker is often the oldest, though this is also changing.

- Vietnamese are respectful of their colleagues, especially those senior in age.

- Business relationships take time to develop as Vietnamese prefer to get to know their foreign counterparts before conducting business.

- Vietnamese names start with the surname followed by the middle and lastly the first name. It is important to use titles whenever possible.

- When referring to one another, Vietnamese people will use the appropriate title followed by the first name.

- The nap after lunchtime is a cultural norm and is counted as part of the total working hours. It raises staff efficiency, allowing them to return to work refreshed and refocused.

- It is common for senior managers to be out of the office enhancing their ‘personal’ relationships and conducting ‘social’ intercourse on a daily basis.

- Disregard of personal responsibility and accountability is a major problem. You cannot rely on diplomas alone to establish someone’s competency.

- Trying to reduce work pressure and creating a friendly and relaxing office atmosphere is great.

- Vietnamese institutions often do not select the best and brightest, but rather their family members or closest friends.

- Business relationships are relatively formal.

- Disagreements are handled in a subtle manner, and if you adopt this, you will likely find it effective.

- Chatting or sharing a snack with colleagues is part and parcel of office life.

- Most Vietnamese would benefit from coaching in phone manners when introducing themselves on the phone.

- If a colleague (or a colleague’s family member) is sick, Vietnamese people will take the time to visit, usually bringing along a small gift.

- Vietnam is well known for its disciplined, hard-working and fast-learning population. Still, sometimes you may need to repeat things more than once. Make sure your message is well understood.

- Remember that family is very important here, and you should enquire from time to time about your colleagues’ families.

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