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Recruitment and Retention

Way companies can better support a multilingual workforce

February 22, 2022

Having a multilingual workforce can bring numerous benefits to a business. One significant advantage is that it promotes diversity, which has been shown by surveys to lead to increased revenue and more innovative thinking. Furthermore, hiring individuals who can speak different languages can enhance communication with colleagues and customers who are not fluent in English.

At the same time, trying to support a multilingual workforce can be a bit more complex than supporting workers who only speak one language. Here are a few strategies that can help.

Communicate in a way that everyone understands

If you have employees who speak languages other than English, it is important to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication by communicating with them in a way that they can understand. This also shows that you value them and their language skills. To achieve this, you should consider translating important documents and forms, such as your employee handbook and policies, into their primary language.

If possible, bring in an interpreter, even if it is only for specific events or meetings with struggling employees. An interpreter can help to clear up any confusion that may arise due to language barriers.

When communicating with non-English speakers, it is important to speak clearly and to avoid using slang and jargon that may be unfamiliar to them. By doing so, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that your employees feel valued and understood.

Use multiple forms of communication

Some individuals possess the skill to communicate fluently in another language verbally, but when it comes to reading or writing in that language, they may struggle significantly. Conversely, some people may excel in written communication but find it challenging to convey their thoughts and ideas verbally.

In a workplace setting, utilizing multiple forms of communication can help bridge these gaps and facilitate effective communication for all team members. For instance, sending out a detailed agenda prior to a meeting can be helpful for those who comprehend written English better, while the actual meeting can benefit those who better understand spoken English.

Educate employees about cultural differences

A multilingual workforce not only speaks different languages, but they also likely have different cultures and customs. Educating your employees about these differences can help promote a more cohesive and understanding workforce.

If you have a company newsletter, create a section that talks about some of the cultures represented in your workforce. Share some interesting bits of information about them, then provide a few communication tips. Consider creating a section in your company newsletter that highlights the different cultures represented in your workforce. Share interesting information about each culture and provide communication tips.

One way to learn about different cultures is to celebrate their holidays. Ask employees from various parts of the world about their major holidays and choose a couple to celebrate within the workplace. Involve employees in the planning process to ensure that these celebrations are as authentic as possible and show each staff member that they are a valued part of the team.

A fun way to get to know different cultures is to celebrate different holidays. Talk to employees from different areas of the world and ask about their major holidays. Pick a couple and celebrate them within the workplace. Include the employees in the planning to keep these celebrations as authentic as possible while also showing each individual staff member that they are a valued part of the team.

Read more about how to prioritize diversity and inclusion in your workforce here. 

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