Sep 04

4 tips on how to deal with a language barrier on the job

Pollux employs temporary workers of different nationalities, mainly of Polish descent. In some cases there may be a language barrier. This can cause possible miscommunication in the workplace, which may have serious consequences, for example for safety. In this blog, we will give you some tips on how to deal with language barriers at work.

Language and culture

Various studies have shown that many accidents at the workplace are caused by miscommunication due to a language barrier. For example, the employee did not fully understand the safety instructions, causing him / her and other employees to face serious risks in terms of safety. The client and the employment agency are both responsible for the safety of temporary workers. One part of this is the compulsory drawing up of safety regulations.

In addition to a language barrier, you will also experience differences in culture as a client. Cultural differences within an organization ensure that the effectiveness of communication is weakened. In addition, it is important that you as a client acquire knowledge of other cultures. For example, try to ask for the standards and values of your temporary workforce so you can understand each other better in certain situations. You could do this by using an interpreter.

Tips for language barriers

How can you get the temporary worker to undersand the safety regulations? Here are some tips.

1. Translation of information

Make sure you translate your operating manuals, operating instructions, and safety instructions into the native language of the temporary worker. Often important documents are written in Dutch, English and German. For temporary workers of other nationalities it can be hard to fully understand these documents. Do you employ Polish temporary workers? Translate your rules into Polish. Pollux can help you with this.

2. Create your own dictionary together

Each organization has different words and expressions that are often used. As an employer, it is advisable to translate this.

3. Instruction meeting

Do you employ several temporary workers with one particular nationality? Organize an instruction meeting and let an interpreter provide support. This will ensure that the temporary workers understand the information. If necessary, this information meeting can be repeated several times a year. Information is better remembered when it’s repeated.

4. Use a lot of images

Images are effective to convey a message and are remembered more often. Think about icons; simple, easily recognizable images that allow the person to recognize a warning, clue or prohibition. In addition, images are more universal than words. However, it is important that the icons are explained briefly, to prevent misinterpretation.