As-Salaam-Alaikum," “Good morning”, “How are you?”, “How may I help you?” are basic phrases and common courtesies that help enhance the customer experience. The knowledge of the language, communication skills and confidence to practice these social skills are essential for effective organizational performance in the workplace. In multicultural societies, having to find a common language for communication can be an uphill task. This is especially true in the FM Industry in the UAE where majority of staff are from source markets whose native language is not English. Furthermore many of these individuals come from educationally and economically challenged backgrounds where opportunities to learn such skills is challenging. Effective communication is also often hindered by the lack of language comprehension and cultural differences.
The importance of effective communication skills can be seen when good communication occurs that prevents misunderstandings, miscommunication and conflict. It produces productive work and performance, which ultimately impacts the company's bottom line. It is therefore important to ensure that your first line staff, the ones who are facing the client, have satisfactory communication skills and are able to assist the end-user should they have any questions or problems to report.
The key to improving communication in the FM industry between service providers and end users lies not only in ensuring that everyone within the company possesses adequate communication skills, but also ensuring that the company leaders and staff are communicating with the right people and in the right way– So how do we achieve this? With English language being the most commonly used business language in the region, the starting point we have adopted in Concordia is the introduction of an In – House English Language Training Course for Beginners – A Program, spread over several weeks is designed to improve the level of English Language among staff and improve productivity and ability to communicate across the various cultures.
Through the introduction of this Course it has become apparent to us that English training in the workplace, is not only important for professional development, but also for personal development. Employees at all levels value this type of instruction and are very motivated to learn as it helps build confidence. It’s not just about teaching English but also the importance of intercultural competence, cultural sensitivities and assuming the role of a “culture coach”.
Throughout the course students become increasingly confident in themselves, develop improved workplace vocabulary, improve their workplace effectiveness, as well as enhance their communication skills with their co-workers and the clients.
(The Author, Carol Muriuki is the HR Manager at Concordia)