Language had safety implications for a supermarket
New cultures, challenges: It's a polyglot world
By Bill Brubaker
The Washington Post
Sunday, February 19, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company
A new manager at a food super market discovered that many of his employees did not attend mandatory safety and sanitation classes. The classes were held in English and many of the staff did not speak English.
This lack of training raised safety and regulatory issues for the supermarket.
- More than 200 (front line employees) of 650 employees did not speak English.
- There was miscommunication between management and staff.
- Immigrant workers fill low paid jobs while English speakers cost more to train and tend to leave after training.
- The supermarket is used a lot by non English speakers.
- Company introduced a multi language training web site.
- Offered English language courses to staff and Spanish to management.
- Shouldn’t companies have language training if part of their client base do not speak English.
- Is language an issue for low end market businesses or across the whole business spectrum?
- Is lack of English skills a source for discrimination, in the same way that not being able to operate a PC a source of discrimination?
- Should companies look at profit returns when organising language skills programmes?
- Shouldn’t the company have had a reporting system in place to show which of the employees did not go to safety classes? Maybe a financial incentive might be appropriate.
- Are there any hidden costs to the solutions adopted by the company?
- Is there a formal system in place to make sure that new employees undergo the necessary training?
- How long can the company depend on the loyalty of immigrant labour?
- Should companies make a harder effort to offer loyalty career programmes to profit centre employees? I assume that a profit centre employee is anyone who comes in direct contact with the client when delivering the company’s products.
- The company boosted sales and attracted more non-English speaking customers.
- Are language skills a value added feature?