Practical advice for managing a multicultural workforce

How to be an inclusive employer

Working with multicultural staff is very common in the horticulture industry. Even though you all speak English or the same language, there can still be a lot of miscommunication. So, how to manage it? In a webinar held on July 14 and organized by Bayer, practical advice for managing a multicultural workforce was provided by Vanessa Campoverde, an educational outreach specialist for the University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Elizabeth Nevadomski, perennial manager at Medford Nursery.

Also in this webinar, an introduction to Bayer's new Spanish Pest Identification Guide, which they launched at their booth at Cultivate'20 Virtual. 

Click here to watch the one-hour webinar.

Food, music and other cultural icons
Vanessa starts off with giving some practical tips for on the work floor that help to increase productivity as well as to reduce social isolation. “Music, of course with a volume to a certain extent, can increase productivity. Sports can help to reduce social distancing and in turn homesickness as well as food that brings the connection between culture.”

Ask for feedback
Regarding communications, Vanessa stresses that it is important to ask for feedback as the worker, who has a different mother language, might not always completely understand what the supervisor means. “Yes, does not always means yes. They may say yes, but they might did not understand what you’ve said and they are often shy to ask.”

Vanessa Campoverde giving a training at a nursery.

Asking for feedback is also important when giving trainings, Campoverde says. “Trainings are good ways to educate your multicultural workforce, however here it is also important to ask for feedback. On top of that, you need to know them and avoid distractions. From my experience, I know that many are eager to learn. However, transferring the message may be the challenge. Once they get the message, it becomes more fun for them to learn. And ideally, when possible, the best option is to provide the training in their own language.”

Don’t use Google translate
So, how to effectively communicate with workers when you’re not billingual? Campoverde and Nevadomski both stress that it is important not to use Google translate. “It does not always correctly translate the sentences and the meaning of the sentence, especially when talking about technical issues. “

Never underestimate the basics
Never underestimate the basics. In all kinds of trainings, like health and safety practices it is important to start from the beginning. “Show them the importance of following the practices like checking and wearing all new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their own health. Also, when temperatures are rising, there is a risk of heat stress. Teach them what to do to avoid it as water is not always their first choice, often they bring soda beverages, which are not proper hydration sources for extreme heat.”

Some examples of safety issues that can be faced
In the webinar, Nevadomski gives several examples of safety issues that can be faced. Below are two examples, but in the webinar, Nevadomski showed more examples. 

Body language
Communication is key for any company and not only spoken language can be misunderstood, body language as well. Different cultures mean different types and meanings for body language.

The booth of Bayer at Cultivate'20 Virtual. Their booth features a link where you can learn more about the Bayer Pest ID Guide in Spanish and pre-order copies, which will be available for distribution later this month. Click here to visit their booth at Cultivate. 

Bayer Pest ID Guide
According to Campoverde and Nevadomski, the resources in other languages are bare and they are therefore happy with the Bayer Pest ID guide, which is a pocket-sized water and scratch resistant flipbook that is ideal for Spanish-speaking nursery and greenhouse laborers and scouts. “It takes training and worker education to the next level, which there is a great need for. The life of the crops depend on workers being able to identify and mix chemicals correctly”, says Nevadomski. 

The combination of pictures and the fact that it is in Spanish will help eliminate common miscommunication with Spanish-speaking laborers and identify and mitigate damage-dealing pests before they become a problem. Bayer launches the book at Cultivate'20 Virtual. You can also download a free copy of the Pest ID Guide in Spanish and English on their website by visiting this link.  

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