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Breaking Through The Language Barrier In A Globalized Workplace

[ 0 ] Jul. 1, 2013 | SBO Editor

Increased globalization has created countless opportunities for corporations, business managers, employees, members of the military, and others to interact across cultural boundaries as never before.  Thanks to technology, boundaries between cultures and countries have become somewhat diminished and the world has become a smaller place. Coupled with the influx of immigrants entering the United States who are beginning new chapters in their lives, our nation has become an even greater melting pot than it was at the beginning of the 20th century and is actually now more of a mosaic, because immigrants now keep their background and native culture far more than our forbearers did.

But with new opportunities and a changing global environment there is often confusion and difficulty in communication and comprehension between social groups, resulting in a lack of productivity, effectiveness, and in some cases —a negative effect on proper healthcare and safety issues.

Chances are most of us will have to communicate, either for business or pleasure, with someone who either does not speak English or has a heavy accent. So how do we break down that barrier to effectively communicate in order for business to run effectively, reduce costly errors, build relationships, and increase productivity?

According to Sharlene Vichness, President and Founder of Language Directions, (www.languagedirections.com), a language training company specializing in instructional programs for corporations, non-profits, small businesses and the U.S. military, “In order to work and live cohesively in this new environment, businesses and individuals must not only communicate successfully through proper use of language skills and accent reduction, but must also have an understanding of the various cultures and country of origin of the people they may be working with.”

Language barriers and cultural understanding can be overcome and can change the way business, government and non-profits manage, how they attract the right employees, and keep harmony in the workplace.  Some key findings of interest for both employers and employees:

For employees

  • A higher degree of expressed self-confidence, increased clarity and comfort when speaking English has a noticeably positive effect on the foreign-born employee’s internal and external customers.
  • Employees have a better understanding of the required and expected communications with their bosses and co-workers.
  • By improving their command of essential English skills necessary for their jobs, employees can realize an ability to move up to positions with more responsibility, a higher level of required skill, and improved compensation.
  • Employees learn they will not jeopardize their jobs by asking questions to improve their understanding to reduce errors and ensure safety.

For employers:

  • Employers enjoy cost savings with a reduction in errors caused by misunderstandings and miscommunication originating from language and cultural difference.
  • A more productive workplace emerges when multiple cultures working within that workplace have better relations and improved communication.  Improvement in English skills fosters the development of a common language at work and fewer silos based on language differences.
  • Privacy issues can be dramatically reduced when employee and employer can communicate directly without a peer translator in disciplinary and personnel issues.
  • Employees with limited or no English skills can be trained in essential skills or behaviors (supervisory training, sexual harassment prevention, safety) in their own language to improve productivity, avoid litigation, and maximize their value to the organization or company.

“Productivity and keeping the bottom line moving upward are strongly tied to good communication and having an understanding of the cultures and languages that are part of our world today,” Vichness continues. “But the real bottom line is that improved communication skills help foster an improved workplace environment for all.”

About Language Directions:

Language Directions is a full service language training company specializing in customized short and long-term instructional programs, offering all levels of training support such as American English as a Second Language (ESL), Accent Reduction, Spanish At Work, Food & Alcohol Safety (ServSafe®) and other industry compliance issues that require effective communication. Through strategic partnerships with prime contractors, Language Directions delivers language and cultural training to the U.S. military.

Instruction is designed to meet corporate or individual requirements to help busy working individuals to deal with language challenges and cultural concerns. Instruction is offered on-site in businesses or associations with flexible scheduling for client convenience.

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Category: Features