Working in a multicultural environment with people from all over the world is fantastic but also challenging at the same time.

While employees with different cultural backgrounds bring a fresh perspective and maybe new and effective ways of getting things done, it’s not uncommon for misunderstanding and confusion to occur when running a multicultural workplace.

Imagine you have a diverse team of people coming from different countries like India, Mexico, Greece and Spain. Communication can be difficult when English is not your employees’ first language. Plus, all these people have different beliefs, traditions and ways of thinking that can cause issues and misunderstandings in your team.

However, you need remember that you’ve chosen to hire them because they’re the best at their jobs. So, if you want to create a harmonious multicultural work environment, be prepared to invest time in getting to know their cultures.

Bridging the communication gap

A great way to bridge the communication gap is to learn some common words and greetings in your employee’s language. Not only is this a good way to connect with them but they’ll also feel more comfortable knowing that you appreciate them enough to learn their language.

When you hire a new staff member, you will probably need to train him: explain what his responsibilities are, the specific procedure that they need to follow and what your expectations are from them. To avoid any misunderstanding, use simple words and talk slowly to ensure they follow what you are saying.

When I was studying in Spain, most of the exchange students didn’t know Spanish very well.  So, the first thing our Spanish teacher taught us was how to say “speak more slowly, please” in Spanish. Until I managed to learn the Spanish language, these were the words I used the most.

Another efficient way to ensure your new staff members understand their responsibilities and your expectations is by writing them down in a document and translating them into their native language. With translation software, it takes just a few minutes to translate documents from English to Spanish, German, French and many other languages. Plus, it’s affordable and you won’t need to invest thousands of dollars in translation agencies.

Having a written document translated into their native language is the best way to prevent any misunderstanding.

Breaking down the barriers

For your staff members to work great together, they first need to get to know each other. So, start by creating an environment that’s both professional and fun!

Big brands like Adobe and Facebook are doing a fantastic job at keeping their employees happy by providing a workspace where people enjoy working but also playing games or participating in other fun activities. You can also organize a teambuilding where they can play games, talk and share bits and pieces of their cultures.

Not only will they enjoy themselves but it will be an important step in creating a fantastic multicultural environment where everyone will feel like they belong.

How are you creating a harmonious work environment for your multicultural team?