With the increase of globalization in the workplace, clear and effective communication has never been more necessary. We cross several language and cultural boundaries when we step into our offices every day. Because of this, an understanding of language and culture can be vital in many areas of the business world, and Human Resources is no exception.
Most companies provide documentation to their employees that assist them in performing their duties effectively, whether it be an employee handbook or a procedural manual. It is imperative that each and every employee, regardless of language or cultural background, can fully understand the content provided. Misunderstandings of procedures, expectations and job requirements lead to loss in quality, productivity, and efficiency, and can even lead to the loss of otherwise good employees.
The same employees who are unable to understand their training manuals may be facing many other stresses when communicating with not only their supervisors, but their peers as well. Participation in team-based activities is difficult when language barriers exist. Even the simplest messages can get lost between coworkers, which can lead to frustration, alienation, and missed deadlines. Effective language training, that focuses on verbal communication of work-related language, can help to eliminate these difficulties.
Even when language barriers do not exist, that does not necessarily mean that effective communication is alive and well. Cultural understanding in the workplace is increasingly more important in our global world. In today’s workplace, even domestic companies are becoming more connected to a wider array of cultures. With the growing number of remote employees, easier access to global markets, and more vendors moving overseas, even small companies are learning the importance of maintaining a culturally aware workplace.
As our workplace becomes more diverse, cultural understanding is significantly more important in the workplace than in previous decades. In order for employees and managers to be the most effective they can be, it is imperative that these boundaries are recognized, acknowledged and understood by the team and the organization.
For some, it may seem at first glance that your organization is not culturally diverse. The reality is that it is probably more diverse than even you realize. When we think of culture we think primarily of differences in race, ethnicity, and religion. However, that does not include other cultural groups that affect our workplace like gender, generational groups, and even neighborhoods. Because of the number of cultures an organization can have within its walls, cross-cultural training is important to developing a strong company culture that promotes inclusion of all cultural diversities.
From a human resources perspective, the key reason to engage in efforts to eliminate communication barriers is to bring understanding, cultural awareness and acceptance to the workplace. When every member of your team is able to participate in meaningful communication, the team thrives.
-Nicole Parker, Employee Growth and Organization Manager