What's the best way to handle language barriers?

By 
Dana Moran, Managing Editor

hable espanol spanish

Q: What’s the best way of handling possible communication barriers?

A: It’s important to give all employees the tools they need to succeed at their jobs, says Arthur Bretton, corporate director of foodservices for Catholic Health Services of Long Island. When it comes to non-native English speakers, whom he estimates comprise about 5-6 percent of his overall staff, that can mean taking a few extra steps to ensure everyone is on the same page. Bretton has translated written tests into Spanish, and signed up for Rosetta Stone courses to “get some inkling on what our staff is talking about.” “I think anyone who’s in charge of people who aren’t able to speak English well, they need to look outside themselves to improve their understanding of that culture and that language,” says Bretton, whose facility also provides menu translation for patients and staff.

The cultural part of that barrier is as important to consider as language, he adds, recalling an incident at a previous facility when he encountered a worker exiting the bathroom wearing rubber gloves. When Bretton asked what the man was doing, he replied that he had washed his hands. “He didn’t understand that you couldn’t do it with your gloves on,” Bretton says. “In today’s health care, a lot of times the labor force is very short-staffed, so not all the time do we have the ability to go through and make sure everybody understands everything. They slip through the cracks, and that’s where we have our problems.”

Bretton himself combats this education gap by having each staff member complete training and receive a food handler’s certificate. Those who didn’t understand the material were able to work with an individual instructor. “It just gives them such a boost of self-confidence,” he says.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
woman in the kitchen alone

The #MeToo movement has turned sexual harassment into the top labor-related regulatory issue for all employers, triggering action from three out of four companies, according to a new survey on workforce concerns.

About two-thirds (66%) of employers rank the issue among their top two employment-related legal worries, even without a change in the pertinent laws and regulations, the canvass found.

What has changed, concluded surveyor Littler Mendelson, one of the nation’s largest labor-focused legal firms, are employee expectations and the social climate.

“No company...

Managing Your Business
Starbucks college campus

Noncommercial dining centers are often filled with their own Starbucks, Burger Kings, Panera Breads and dozens of other nationally recognized brands. Branded concepts, whether corporate brands or self-operated, offer diners familiar names, menu items, and a sense of place. This translates into more money spent and more diner loyalty for foodservice operators.

However, the success of branded concepts vary greatly. There can be significantly different results depending on whether noncommercial operators decide to franchise, lease or develop their own branded concepts. There’s no one-...

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Industry News & Opinion
polystyrene takeout

New York City will immediately start phasing out foodservice operations’ use of polystyrene takeout containers after a judge ruled on Friday against an operator coalition that had sued to overturn such a regulation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said over the weekend.

Unless the measure is blocked again on appeal, the city will commence a public education campaign to smooth the way for the change to other sorts of containers. Operators will be given a six-month grace period to find alternatives before they’ll be subject to sanctions.

The measure was scheduled to take effect last...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code