Connecting People,
Connecting Cultures

How to address rapid changes in the demographics of the work place

Do you have employees and clients that can’t communicate in English effectively?

As everybody knows, in recent years many changes have occurred in the demographics of the Pacific Northwest, and there will be more dramatic challenges in the near future.

Industries like manufacturing, hospitality, farming, fast food, landscaping, construction, and health care providers will need to hire more foreigners to work for them.

Some of the reasons for this phenomenon are that the baby boomers are retiring and there is a shortage of “American” workers to fill the jobs. Also there is a need to have a more diverse work force. The only solution that is available for organizations is to hire foreigners, especially Latinos. Some of the challenges that Human Resources Managers are facing are how to attract, train and retain Latino workers. Also organizations face the challenge of communicating effectively across both language and cultural barriers.

What to do? There are three aspects that need to be addressed:

1. Gather information. Do your own census. Learn where your employees come from, know their level of education. Can they read and write? Is Spanish their native language? Can they really understand English? How many years have they been in the U.S.A.? This information is basic in planning different techniques and tools to communicate effectively with them.

2. Educate yourself and your organization. Do not assume that all Latinos are the same. With the information obtained after doing your census, do some research about their countries, particular culture and their main characteristics. You have to be aware of topics like gender, education, country of origin, ethnic background and social class.

3. Assess the communication contact points within your organization. Do you know if the communication contact points in your organization are effective? A communication contact point is a specific situation in which a person interacts with the organization. Those include the entry into the workplace, the training and communication of company policies, procedures, counseling, the signing of important documents, and the exit interview.

Organizations need to be prepared to embrace change if they want to achieve greater clarity, harmony, and unity, and if they want to increase employee performance, engagement, satisfaction and retention.

Are the terms "Hispanics" and "Latinos" the same?

Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant.

“Hispanic” encompasses all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizes the common denominator of the language among communities that sometimes have little else in common.

“Latino” refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. While Latinos often speak Spanish there are a number of other languages and indigenous dialects that are used. The most common indigenous dialects in the Pacific Northwest are Mixteco, Triqui, and Zapoteco.

This is what people say about working with Susana and MMC

“She is a native speaker and one of the very useful aspects of working with her, is that she understands the different cultural perceptions among people from the different Latino countries.

We had a long ongoing problem among our staff from Mexico and other staff from Guatemala. Susy came in and solved the problem in just one meeting by listening carefully and talking directly with the staff involved. What a relief! “

Linell Nevius

Director of Human Resources

Mary’s Woods

Lake Oswego