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General U.S. Work Practices

General U.S. Work Practices

Depending on where you are moving from, the American business environment can seem strange and confusing. Understanding the business climate in the U.S. will ensure that you are prepared to face the challenges of adjusting into your new position. Although each company is different and has their own set of rules and customs, there are some similarities within organizations in the United States.

Below is a list of general U.S. work practices Expats need to understand before arriving for their first day of work.

  1. The average full-time work week is 40 hours, and workers are usually expected to work Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
  2. Business attire includes a suit and tie for men and a suit or dress with a jacket for women. Business casual dress codes do not require a suit jacket or a tie.
  3. Being late for work or meeting is unacceptable. Punctuality is valued and seen as a sign of commitment and respect.
  4. Firm handshaking, lasting about 4 seconds, accompanied by eye contact is expected upon greeting and leaving.
  5. Communication tends to be direct and clear. Ambiguous answers are not considered respectful.
  6. In meetings, it is common to introduce oneself by first name only, but offering a business card with the full name and contact information after the meeting is custom.
  7. The phrase “time is money” is taken seriously. Little time tends to be wasted with pleasantries before a meeting begins. Usually, after a contract is signed is when relationship building among partners begins.
  8. Companies in the U.S. are not required to offer paid time off. However, most professionals begin with 2-3 weeks of vacation time per year.
  9. Maternity leave is not guaranteed and depends on the company’s policy. Commonly, organizations offer up to 6 weeks of maternity leave.
  10. Gift giving is not common. Also, exorbitant gifts are prohibited as they can be seen as an attempt to bribe, which is illegal in the United States.