Communication can be a challenge in every office. This is especially true in multilingual workplaces, something that more offices will face as workforces are becoming more globalized. Fortunately, there are steps managers and other stakeholders can take to ensure that communication is productive and fruitful. The key is to promote language learning with the goal of competency at least, and ideally fluency. This will lead to better team communication, and ultimately a better ability to compete on a global scale. Here are some actions businesses can take to facilitate this process.
Leaders Should Set an Example by Learning New Languages
When management asks team members to prioritize multilingualism, they lose credibility if they aren’t willing to take the same steps. Make an effort to learn foreign languages that allow you to communicate with all of your employees productively. This could even lead to your ability to communicate with clients who speak other languages. By doing these things, you will be better able to recruit and hire candidates without considering language as a barrier. Don’t forget that you can always include tuition reimbursement for language learning as a company perk.
Assume All Staff Members Will Need to Communicate
You may assume that remote workers or others who tend to do their jobs independently won’t need to communicate with management or their coworkers very often. However, that is rarely the case. All workers, at some point, will need to communicate with management, HR, and one another. Even if that communication is limited to questions about company policy or to verify duties, language mustn’t be a barrier. Take steps to ensure that every staff member, contractor, or freelancer can be accommodated.
Create an Inclusive Environment
It’s important to approach non-native speakers with empathy. It’s undoubtedly challenging to have valuable skills to offer, but struggle with communication. Use whatever tools necessary to keep these workers engaged and included in workplace communications.
It is worth the investment to use translators and interpreters to help with this. For example, you will make great strides in promoting workplace communication simply by having employee guides and manuals translated into other languages. PickWriters reviews can help you discern which professional services will be best for your business.
Prioritize Multilingualism in Hiring
If your team members speak two different languages, it only makes sense to hire at least some staff members that are fluent in both. Change job listings and descriptions to reflect these priorities.
Multilingualism should especially be emphasized when hiring people into leadership positions. As an added benefit, multilingual employees are especially valuable to have in customer-facing roles.
Recognize Situations Where a Language Barrier is Particularly Problematic
It’s always frustrating and unproductive when language barriers make communication difficult. However, there are certain times when these barriers are more than inconvenient. They can impact employee well-being and productivity. Some areas of concern include:
- Employee training and onboarding
- Emergencies and other safety concerns
- Reporting HR related issues such as workplace harassment
- When there is workplace conflict to resolve
In cases like these, it is absolutely imperative that all employees are able to communicate and be understood.
Get Buy-In When it Comes to Multilingualism
Any effort at creating a multilingual workplace where the importance of communication is a top priority will be a failure without buy-in.
For employees, emphasize the value of adding foreign language fluency to their skill-set. For management, remind them that the entire company benefits when workers can communicate with one another effectively. Finally, point out that having a multilingual workforce removes one important barrier to entry when it comes to expanding into global marketplaces.
BIO: Michael Carr
Michael is a full-time writer with many years of experience. He invests his time in writing interesting content about business and current events. In his spare time, Michael loves reading articles about success in the modern corporate world.