In episode 30 of “The JoyPowered™ Workspace Podcast,” JoDee and Susan discuss communicating with a multicultural workforce with Marina Waters, president of LUNA Language Services. Topics include why language services is a fast-growing industry, how to attract culturally diverse applicants, and how to overcome language barriers.
Language services is a fast-growing industry, with about 1 in 5 U.S. residents speaking a language other than English in the home. Each state is a little different in terms of which languages are needed; Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic are common throughout the country, but every city has its own clusters of immigrant and refugee populations. When employing non-English-speakers, it’s important to look to a company or resource that has trained professionals - when you’re communicating about employment packages, insurance issues, complaints, etc., you’re going to need someone with a really high level of the language!
You’ll also need a language access plan. If you work with the federal government or have federal funding, you’re required to have a plan and make accommodation, but even if you don’t, it’s a good idea to create a plan so your employees know about your processes and policies. If an employee can’t communicate about the problems they’re having, you’re going to have a retention problem.
Many companies are trying to reach out to our diverse culture, and they need to be able to source diverse candidates and get their input on how to reach a diverse audience for products and services. Take the concept of diversity and all it represents, then ingrain it in your business processes through language and culture. Companies that integrate diversity at all levels are really thriving! There’s a lot of talent coming into our communities from other countries, many with professional degrees. It’s important to get over our own internal biases so we’re not overlooking qualified people because they don’t speak English well.
If you’re ready to make your team more diverse, it’s important to plan ahead. Make your job postings multilingual, and know who’s going to answer the calls and emails. Look at refugee resettlement organizations, cultural organizations, and language services organizations to source talent; they often know people looking for opportunities or can point you in the right direction for help. Retain your culturally diverse talent by sharing information non-verbally and creating a glossary of important terms. Identify opportunities to build relationships and trust; teach managers how to ask about the non-English-speakers’ days, families, etc. and have cultural exchanges like shared meals with employees bringing food from their own cultures.
In this episode’s listener mail, Alex just started a job and is concerned about getting her two-week vacation approved. JoDee and Susan discuss how marijuana legalization is affecting employers.