<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Can We Improve Communication with Non-English-Speaking Employees

June 11, 2004
Dear Caught:

You have to be able to communicate with your employees. This capacity is critical for safety reasons, if not for training and day-to-day management, let alone employee retention. If you can't communicate in Spanish, don't hire Hispanic employees (though make sure you comply with the law!). Find a bilingual supervisor, or someone you can train to be a supervisor. Alternatively, learn Spanish yourself and/or teach your Hispanic employees how to speak English.
By the way, how were you able to hire these people? Who interviewed them? Are they legal? Please know that you may be taking big risks under your current circumstances. You said you hired dishwashers. When is your next health department inspection? Are your employees trained? As far as the housekeepers, who teaches them how you want rooms cleaned? Who talks with them if a guest has a complaint or reports something missing?
If you can't hire a full-time bilingual supervisor, hire a temp on a regular basis or check with your local community college or university for potential employees or communication specialists.
SOURCE: Roger E. Herman, certified speaking professional and certified management consultant,The Herman Group, Greensboro, North Carolina, co-author of How to Become an Employer of Choice and Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People, July 9, 2003.
LEARN MORE: Read a Dear Workforce article aboutmeasures to ease the transition for foreign-born employees.
This article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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