27 Feb Communication Strategies For a Multi-cultural Workforce

Currently, more than 12% of the U.S residents are foreign born and the number is rising constantly. With that in mind, human resource managers must come up with strategies that can foster good working relationships in a multi-cultural workforce. Business prosperity, survival and growth depend largely on the smooth working relations between people of different cultures, whether local, regional, national or global. Therefore, a global business approach developed along a multicultural perspective must be adopted by human resource professionals. The following communication strategies can be implemented in order for this cultural literacy to succeed at the workplace.

  • Learn How Different Cultures Communicate 

Managers should learn how different cultures prefer receiving information and the manner in which they trust the information received. For example, people from certain cultures will not trust information received from the team leader. Instead, they will only trust information received directly from the manager, or someone with formal authority. On the other hand, some workers are uncomfortable being singled out for praise or rebuke in front of their colleagues, a method very common in the United States.


  • Train Foreign Employees Early and Regularly 

Most of the cultural confusion and misunderstanding can be prevented through ongoing and early training. It is important that employees understand the company’s expectations and goals at an early stage of their employment. Consequently, this will enable them to soak in the culture of the company with little to no friction. According to Henry Miller, a human resource consultant with Heidrick & Struggles International, many conduct issues in the workplace can be prevented by simply ensuring that obligations and rules are clearly defined and a common code of conduct is practiced to ensure equality & respect for all.

  • Hire a multi-lingual interpreter 

If there are several cultures and languages at the workplace, it will be advisable to hire an interpreter, one who is fluent in different languages. In a situation where the workplace is dominated by a particular foreign group or nationality, managers are advised to hire an interpreter native to that language or culture but expertly fluent in English as well. The translator will play the key role of carrying out everyday communication between both parties, thus promoting a harmonious, unified approach of working.


  • Train the Natives Too 

It is important for everyone to understand and embrace diversity at the workplace. This ensures that all employees are respectful of one another, their culture as well as their native language. Make sure that everyone has the understanding that cooperation and tolerance are part & parcel of the company’s culture.

There are many minor, as well as major, differences cultures across the world. Those from a different background may experience a ‘cultural shock’ when beginning their journey in a new country. The ideal strategy in such a situation would be to help the employee adjust and adapt to the new, unfamiliar environment and support their relocation in any way possible.

  • Avoid Slang and Jargon 

This implies in all company-wide communications. Foreign employees may not be able to understand company communication when passed through slang and jargon, together with culture-specific idioms. Avoid using terms or slang that your foreign colleague or associate may have a hard time comprehending and, instead, communicate in simple English.


  • Stick to Business 

The company’s goals and missions should be communicated clearly and from the very beginning. Additionally, the manager should ensure that workplace is driven by business standards and requirements, instead of personal preferences. This is one of the best means of ensuring that people of different ethnicities and cultures can participate without fear of favor or prejudice. Consistency of message from the top ranks is very important to prevent conflicting agendas.


Every manager should determine the best means of passing down the message. This translates to knowing the team, understanding their concerns, and promoting integration. Building a productive workplace composed of employees from different cultures can enrich an organization, on numerous levels. After all, in today’s globalized environment, diversity promotes business.

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