I often get questions from clients about how to effectively engage Spanish speaking employees. Sometimes those with limited English proficiency get left behind in fully understanding workplace directives, safety instructions, or training methods. This presents a large communication gap in your organization that can hinder teamwork, decrease productivity, and potentially cause an unsafe working environment.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In addition to providing language training to help your Spanish-speaking employees learn English, managers should learn some simple Spanish phrases as well. When you show your Spanish-speaking employees you care about their success on the team, their productivity and morale will improve.
Click here to download our quick Spanish Reference sheet to learn some simple Spanish phrases to use with your non or limited English speaking employees. Here are a few helpful suggestions to get you started:
State job instructions and safety procedures clearly and be careful about being too impatient with language barriers. Learn key phrases in Spanish. Here’s an example:
- Please put the ladder away when you’re done using it: “Cuando termine de usar la escalera, guárdela en su lugar.”
Don’t be shy about praising a job well done. Praise good work publicly and if there are any issues with an employee’s work, talk to the individual privately. Saving face is big in every culture. Use this line to offer general praise:
- Great job today! “¡Buen trabajo hoy!”
Encourage employees to take a greater role in decisions and management tasks and provide them with the necessary tools to communicate more effectively with fellow employees and customers. Like this:
- After cleaning your area, please help your co-worker: “Después de limpiar su área, ayude a su compañero de trabajo.”
Here are a few more tips for managers: Be patient as you work through language barriers. When talking with Spanish-speaking employees, always give them time to respond. These employees want to show what they’re learning, but they may need a little extra time to formulate their thoughts. Also, for complicated concepts, show employees what you need. A picture really is worth a thousand words.