thebigword guest editor Bob Arnold Vice President of Inside Sales (Americas) shares his advice on managing a global workforce

To communicate successfully in today’s workplace, employers must first understand the diversity of languages spoken not only within their organization, but throughout the world.. Language barriers prevent clear communication between employees sacrificing productivity and the ability to provide feedback effectively. This becomes a major concern for management – how they can deal with employees who cannot communicate fluently- or at all- in a particular language?

Currently 65% of Executives recognize that language barriers exist in today’s marketplace, a challenge that need to be overcome to effectively manage diverse workforces.

Challenges of a global workforce

  • Miscommunication leading to inefficiency and employee error
  • Lack of internal collaboration and overall competitiveness
  • Declining employee performance
  • Low employee retention
  • Lack of respect for management

To overcome these challenges consider our five top tips

1. Translate Everything
Ensure that you have all relevant internal and external documentation translated into your employee’s local language. It is important to be aware of their primary language, but also local dialect. For example Spanish: Spaniards speak a different dialect to those in Mexico or Argentina. When an employer can engage with employees in their own language it helps to unite everyone within the organisation.

2. Learn your employee’s language
Even if it’s just a few words, this will go a long way with your employees. They will appreciate the effort you are making to communicate with them and this will propel them to continue learning the language management speaks.

3. Teach your employees your company’s main language
Provide basic training on your company’s primary language so they have the skills to communicate and understand the internal lingo of your own organisation, for example company and industry acronyms.

4. Hire Interpreters
Consider bringing in interpreters to assist with new employee orientation, training, conferences, company events etc. This will demonstrate your commitment to breaking down communication barriers.

5. Promote Culture
Make sure you learn about your employee’s culture and teach them about yours. This will give everyone in the organisation insight as to what is appropriate and provide the opportunity to identify any issues or conflict between cultures ahead of time.

In summary, don’t dismiss or ignore employee needs when it comes to overcoming challenges surrounding language and cultural barriers. Management needs to identify these potential gaps and plan for effective communication, which is essential to ensure productivity and engagement of employees.