The world of building and construction jobs in America has changed a lot, as more people from different backgrounds are working together.
A big part of this change is the increase in Latino workers. In 2001, about 16.7% of workers were Latino. By 2021, this number grew to 31.5%. That means one in of three U.S.-based construction workers is Latino.
Monica Hernandez, a 20-year construction-industry HR veteran, says,“This diversity is fantastic and helps strengthen us as an industry. But it’s not without challenges: there are often language and cultural barriers to address.”
The Problem: Understanding Each Other
The U.S. workforce has more cultures and languages in the mix than ever, with Latino workers representing one in three of those employees in the construction industry. With that mix in play, some workers might not speak English well, and others might not understand the Latino culture. So, how can on-site managers andteam leaders ensure everyone understands each other?
Breaking Down Language Barriers
The first step is getting your most important messages across, quickly and clearly. Here are some simple steps on-site team leaders can take to make sure everyone gets the message:
- Use Easy-to-Access Tools: Find ways to talk to everyone, even if they're not in the office. Most people have phones, so use tools that work on phones.
- Use Translation Apps: If there's a language problem, use apps like Google Translate. It might not be perfect, but it helps. Hernandez says, "Even if it's not perfect, trying to understand is a good step."
- Send the Same Message to Everyone: Ensure everyone gets the same information simultaneously. This way, there's more clarity.
- Check If Everyone Understood: After sending a message, check if everyone got it, with steps as simple as requiring a response. If someone didn't understand, help them out using the tools listed above, or by bringing in a bilingual team mate who can help bridge the gap.
Getting Along: Making Everyone Feel Welcome
It's not just about language. It's also about making everyone feel like they belong. Here's how bosses can make sure everyone feels part of the team:
- Keep Learning About Each Other: Have regular talks about different cultures. Talking about our different cultures helps everyone understand and respect each other.
- Celebrate Together: Remember special days like birthdays to help team members feel like they are part of a bigger family.
- Say 'Thank You' in Public: Celebrate a job well done with the entire team. Sharing success stories boosts team morale and connections..
- Use Words That Include Everyone: Try utilizing inclusive language like “we” instead of “you” to remind your team that they are working together, as a unit.
Having more Latino workers in construction is a big change. But with some effort, everyone can get along and work well together. If you need more help or ideas, check out MindForge, the leading communications app for on-site construction teams.