The construction industry relies on bilingual workers. It is estimated that more than 75% of construction workers speak Spanish. That high number is likely attributed to a growing Latino workforce. Currently 28% of construction workers identify as Hispanic or Latino, a number that has tripled in the last couple of decades.
Construction companies need to be able communicate with bilingual workers, especially during the hiring process. As construction companies struggle to fill positions in the coming years, making it easy for bilingual workers to apply and onboard at your company could be critical to maintaining your workforce.
Strong Communication with Bilingual Workers is Key
Communication is one of the biggest considerations to make when hiring bilingual workers or workers whose first language isn’t English. If you can’t speak to your workers, you can’t direct them efficiently and can’t make sure they’re safe.
If your employee content isn’t offered in multiple languages, you’ll never get them to work for you in the first place. Job descriptions, postings, advertisements, EEO posters should all be offered in multiple languages, especially Spanish if you’re hiring in the construction industry.
Once you’ve hired a bilingual worker, it’s also a great idea to have a translator available. The Engineering News Record (ENR) suggests choosing the best English speaker among your non-English-speaking workers to help translate for other workers. A real-time translator can provide on-the-spot safety training, reducing accidents due to instructions being lost in translation.
One way to ensure great communication is by using HR software that’s made to simplify hiring and onboarding processes, and that can provide information in both English and Spanish.
Real World Example
Here’s one example of how Arcoro provided a construction company with the tools they needed to hire and onboard low-tech bilingual workers quickly and efficiently while providing a great employee experience.
Civil Constructors is a Tennessee-based contractor specializing in rock blasting, site grading and excavating for commercial, industrial and residential projects. The company has multiple locations and a diverse workforce made up of more than 200 employees that expands seasonally.
Civil Constructors needed an easier way to communicate with foremen and supervisors in the field who were involved in the hiring process and to onboard and train new hires who might lack technical knowledge and were often Spanish speaking. The company needed HR software that would address three goals:
- Overcoming tech and language barriers
- Achieving ease of access from the field
- Simplifying documentation
- ATS for Hiring: Arcoro’s Applicant Tracking software gave Civil Constructors’ foremen and supervisors access to resumes and applications from anywhere, so they didn’t have to be in the office to keep the hiring process moving. They could forward applications to HR for employees they were interested in hiring or disqualify candidates on the spot.
- Onboarding: Arcoro’s Onboarding software allowed Civil Constructors to overcome potential technology and language barriers. The software includes Spanish versions of forms and training. New hires can easily access the onboarding program from tablets at the company’s front desk. Staff can easily access employee documents when needed.
These solutions allowed Civil Constructors to make hiring decisions from the field and provide all its bilingual workers the same great onboarding experience the company’s other workers enjoyed.
Consider the Safety of Bilingual Workers
Training ultimately goes hand-in-hand with onboarding. It’s essential to offer training materials and courses in languages other than English to help keep your bilingual workers safe. Numerous studies have found significantly higher occupational-injury rates among Hispanic and immigrant workers, according to the Engineering News Record.
Arcoro’s Learning Management System (LMS) gives employers the ability to upload their own materials so they can offer essential training in any language they choose. Arcoro’s LMS also offers 10- or 30-hour OSHA courses in Spanish through a partnership with ClickSafety.
Bilingual workers are a great resource for construction companies. Take steps to reach them in their own language so applying for your company is easy. Providing onboarding and training materials in their first language will help make them feel like part of your company and keep them safe on the job site.
Read more about how Civil Constructors overcame its challenges in the full case study.