How to Focus on Language


HR managers have a lot to think about – recruiting, hiring, onboarding, benefits, support, training, evaluation – a common element to all of these is effective communication. Language is so much a part of what we do that it is easy to take for granted. But because it is involved in everything we do at work, it’s worth setting aside some time to think about how language is used, and how workplace communication can be improved.

Some questions to consider:

  1. What are the different first languages spoken by employees?
  2. What are the contexts in which different languages are used?
  3. Are language differences more of a resource, or more of a problem?
  4. Do all employees have enough of all the languages in use to perform all job responsibilities?
  5. Do all groups and individuals feel included in workplace communication?
  6. What level of each language is necessary for success in each job?
  7. How and when are language proficiencies assessed?
  8. What practices are in place for improving language skills?
  9. Is communication with all relevant stakeholders efficient and effective?
  10. Is language screening an effective and integral part of the hiring process?

For ideas on how to address these questions, see our other “English Policies Which Work” posts.

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