A reader of our weekly e-mail newsletter recently posed this question to the other readers: “What’s the best way to include Spanish-speaking employees in orientation sessions with a predominantly English-speaking group?” Following are some of the responses:
- “In our new-hire orientation, we use a bilingual employee to translate. In our monthly meetings, we present to everyone first, and then we gather with the Spanish-speaking employees. We prefer that everyone hear the same thing, but it’s more important that they understand what the meeting was about.” —L.B., North Carolina
- “We don’t have an orientation process, but we had an interpreter when we have scheduled meetings so that everyone can understand what the meeting was about. If your orientation is done by a video, then you can order it in the other language. Sometimes, employees have to be split into different groups so they will understand what’s going on. It’s not discrimination. A happy employee means a happy workplace and a job well done.” —C.F.
- “Splitting the group is not an option if you want to be a -oriented employer. My approach would be to identify the people who aren’t dominant in English and prepare a written printout for them that covers the presentation in English and in their dominant language. Although that may sound like a large effort, it’s not because someone in the company likely speaks that person’s dominant language.” —Maria, Florida
- “The most efficient way to approach the situation is to have a translator booth so that real-time translation via headphones can be broadcast to the non-English speaking members with the least amount of disruption and the maximum comprehension of the message delivered. Long term, I suggest an aggressive effort to teach English by offering basic language classes customized to the company’s work environment.” —Ramon Rodriguez, Indiana