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HR failing to assess employee language barriers

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In offices up and down the country, HR directors are underestimating the difficulties faced by their workforce and in-house language barriers.

According to research by the London School of English, 98% of HR directors believe that their non-native English speakers can communicate effectively, yet they are failing to take into account the need for specialised vocabulary or that certain employees made need to tone down accents in order to avoid confusion among colleagues or customers.

Of those polled, 52% of HR directors believe that non-English speakers’ accents would not affect understanding, while 69% said that they would not consider training to soften a strong accent.

Hauke Tallon, Director at the London School of English, said it is “surprising that HR directors are so confident in the abilities of non-native English speakers who, when working in specialist professions, often need training in the specific vocabulary, phrases and jargon used by these professions in the UK”.

“The English language is full of complexities and nuance which can impact on understanding, particularly in professions which interact with the general public,” he added.

“With the right training, it takes surprisingly little effort for someone with a competent grasp of English to soften their accent,” added Tallon. “This could make the difference between clarity and confusion.”

However, HR directors that chose to introduce accent training must do so without risking discrimination. Singling out one employee for their accent could risk discrimination claims if not handled properly.


Written by Andrew Hodges

October 27, 2011 at 10:23 am

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with ,

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