Having a Spanish-Speaking Organization Means Changing the Rules of HR
By Terry J. Soto, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.
With the ever-increasing need to employ Spanish-speakers, HR departments are being challenged in a variety of areas. For starters, it is not easy to find Hispanics who are fluent in both Spanish and English, who have the educational background, and who also have experience in banking, retailing, health care, or food service. Realizing this, employers are adapting their hiring criteria to address language as the priority rather than experience, education or English proficiency.
Employers in supermarkets, restaurants, and many other service related industries are willing to give up English fluency and job experience in order to employ first generation Spanish speakers who can attract, interface and make their customers feel at home in their establishments.
For many companies, this means reaching out to community organizations to find job candidates rather than the traditional want ad in the paper. They may be needed to conduct job interviews in Spanish and to assess the candidate’s communications.
New hires must be provided with bilingual training sessions and training materials, including videos, must be translated. In addition, many employers have identified communication breakdowns between their Spanish and English speakers so they find that they need their English-speaking employees to learn Spanish to improve communication. Lastly, employers are helping their Spanish-speaking employees learn English by hosting English as a Second Language (ESL) classes on site or paying for their employees to attend ESL classes at local high schools, often ensuring flexible schedules so that employees can attend.
Several companies are in business to support employers with language and training. One such company has developed a new set of easy-to-use tools for employees and managers who do not speak the same language. They are called CommuniCards and they are bi-lingual, laminated, passport-size guides. The cards fold out accordion-style to show illustrations of tasks and tools that may be specifically customized to different workplace environments.
Moderator’s Comment: How is your company, or others you’re familiar with, adapting operationally to a Spanish-speaking workforce? How do you perceive
the need to adapt operational processes to address these market needs? –
Terry J. Soto – Moderator