Who is the better employee: immigrants or native Israelis?

Survey finds new immigrants better at sticking to schedule, while Sabras think outside the box.

NEW IMMIGRANTS from Brazil arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport on March 14. (photo credit: Courtesy)
NEW IMMIGRANTS from Brazil arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport on March 14.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
While immigrants in Israel are better at abiding by company procedures, natives rate higher on their ability to think outside the box, according to a survey the Gvahim NGO released on Tuesday.
Unsurprisingly, the greatest contribution made by immigrant employees, noted by 80% of the respondents, is in helping their companies expand into international markets.
Gvahim is a subsidiary association of the Rashi Foundation that has been working for 10 years to help new immigrants advance their career goals in Israel.
The questionnaire was sent to some 800 Israeli companies and corporations that employ a mix of olim and native Israelis, but directors of only 32 of those replied.
The survey included directors of companies and corporations in the fields of finance, hi-tech, marketing and consumer products. They were asked about their employees’ efficiency, skills and characteristics, as well as the perceived contribution of the workers to their companies.
Ukrainian immigrants arrive in Israel (OLIVIA FITUSSI)Ukrainian immigrants arrive in Israel (OLIVIA FITUSSI)
New immigrants are considered to be better at meeting schedules, thoroughness and following company procedures, while native Israelis are commended for their initiative, flexibility and teamwork.
84% of the directors said immigrants were strong at following work procedures, while only 43% thought the same of natives. 74% view immigrants as thorough and likely to meet schedules, while only 47% think the same of their Israeli counterparts.
But when it comes to flexible thinking, an overwhelming 97% praised native Israelis against 58% for immigrants. Similarly 93% see native Israelis as good team players, with 70% checking that box for immigrants.
Despite the differences, 66% of the directors said that the efficiency of employees in the two categories is identical and there is just a 3 percentage point gap in their perceived ability to meet goals, with natives 3 points ahead of immigrants at 77%.
According to 62% of the directors, immigrants make the most significant contributions in the areas of marketing and sales, followed by engineering and technology (19%), management and finance (15%) and business development (4%).
Directors also appreciate immigrant for enriching the company with knowledge and experience (72%) and increasing workforce diversity (71%).
Gali Shahar, director of Gvahim, said, “The findings prove that hiring new immigrants alongside native Israeli not only contributes to employment diversity, but also creates professional value for the company and improves its business performance.
Integrating a new immigrant within the company may require adaptations on both sides, but ultimately offers benefits to all, as well as to Israel’s society and economy.”
Ilan Birnfeld, chairman & CEO of Deloitte Israel, a participant in the survey, said that diversity and inclusion are fundamental values of Deloitte. “We live in a global village, and therefore entering new markets and reaching different target audiences can only be done by employing people who know these audiences, their culture and language,” he said. “When trying to understand what is special about the ‘Start-up Nation,’ we realize that it’s all about the uniquely diverse human capital that we have here.”
The Rashi Foundation said that due to the small size of the sample, no standard deviation analysis was performed.