In global sectors, such as construction, investing in language training is not only beneficial but necessary. After all, it is pivotal to forge partnerships, better accommodate a global customer base, and expand operations to other countries.
However, language is also determinant within the company’s workforce, especially if there’s a diversity of cultural backgrounds among employees and contractors.
In the construction sector, this is the most common scenario, especially in North America, where immigrant workers constitute nearly 25 percent of the overall construction workforce.
With more and more foreign workers seeking construction industry jobs, the way companies address cultural/language barriers can be critical, not only in terms of internal relations but also to guarantee general safety.
From managing day-to-day duties to understanding emergency procedures, language plays a key role in minimizing hazards and risks of accidents.
In short, breaking down the language barrier issue is critical for today’s construction companies to carry out.
How language and cultural barriers impact your business
With today's modern and diverse workforces, language obstacles and miscommunications can harm your company's safety and daily operations.
According to the Institute for Work and Health1, a research organization based in Toronto, new immigrant men report a higher rate of injuries due to work than locals. While many reasons sustain this fact, the inability to understand English is pointed out as one of the biggest causes.
When an employee faces language or cultural barriers - such as limited English skills or hesitancy to speak to other colleagues -, it prevents him from fully grasping the safety measures. As a result, he becomes more susceptible to making mistakes or suffering accidents.
Even if your employees show adequate conversational skills, specialized terminology surrounding things like chemical hazards or emergency procedures, may not be part of their vocabulary. Language has many dimensions, and you must pay attention to all.
That is why you must assess how language impacts your operations and what you can do to ensure a safe, healthy, and positive work environment for everyone.
Language training: the key to improving workplace safety
If you wish to improve your workplace safety, there are countless resources at your disposal. You can, for instance, implement multi-language construction software programs or develop a coherent language strategy with a construction recruitment agency.
However, one of the simplest and more effective ways to do it is to invest in a language training program.
Every company is required to train its workers to be safe on the job. However, many forget that language barriers are very often at the root of misunderstandings and work accidents, and that they should be addressed right from the start.
Independently of how great and well-developed your safety and health programs are, they won’t be of much use if your workers can't fully understand the indications.
Internal communication is the cornerstone of every organization; without it, it is nearly impossible to promote a safe and healthy environment.
How to detect if your company needs language training
If your company operates globally or has many foreign workers, investing in a language program should be a top priority. Here’s a simple approach to assess your company’s need for language training:
- Check your employees’ backgrounds and try to understand how many different nationalities you have in the workplace and how efficiently they communicate.
- Assess whether uncontrolled multilingualism is generating a chaotic and inefficient work environment and getting in the way of efficient safety training. You can even conduct a survey addressing their concerns about communication and safety within the
- Review your safety training Determine if the materials are easy to understand based on your employees’ language skills, culture, and literacy. Evaluate if it targets both native and migrant workers.
If you determine that your employees have trouble understanding the safety rules in place and communicating with each other, you should consider investing in a language training program.
By doing so, you will enhance safety on the job and also improve workplace relations and performance.
How Language Advantage can help you
At Language Advantage, we have experience working with many construction companies across Canada, so we understand how determinant language is in this sector. Yet, we also acknowledge that every business is unique and that each team requires a program tailored to their needs. That is why our instructors work very hard to understand the goals of each institution and design tailored programs.
With our training courses, specifically developed for the construction industry, you will perceive higher productivity, better health and safety measures, and, above all, a more positive and happy work environment.
Safety in the workplace is extremely important. Most construction companies that face workplace hazards devote considerable resources to reducing injuries and incidents, often forgetting that language plays a key role in the process. If you think your company could benefit from language training,
Contact us and let us find the best learning solution for your team!