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Understanding, Managing Hispanic Workers Goes Beyond Language Barrier
Highlights from 2004 Articles
By Peter Hildebrandt
Date Posted: 1/3/2005
Hispanics are growing in number in the
Perhaps the greatest challenge for those who deal with Hispanics is understanding the people they work with – not simply their language, but their entire culture and its effect on day-to-day human relations.
It is also important to realize that the most important part of the Hispanic worker’s life is his family. Hispanics support their families back in their country of origin by sending home much of their earnings, or they bring their entire family to this country and save money by living together in cramped conditions with other families.
Hispanics generally have different concepts than Americans in such basic matters as time, the future, group loyalty and trust. A Hispanic worker may be tardy consistently, but not because he is lazy. Punctuality is not especially valued — if at all — in their culture; Hispanics live very much in the moment.
The concept of planning ahead for any length of time, though valued by many Americans, is not a familiar concept with Hispanics. Because of the strong role played by religion in the Hispanic culture, they also may be less concerned with safety. Personal events are tied to their conviction that their fate rests ‘in the hands of God.’ They may resist wearing safety equipment for this reason, and there is a strong likelihood that they are not familiar with OSHA safety standards, which must be followed.
Care must be taken in simple things such as incentive programs. Hispanics have a collective nature, and a reward system that singles out one individual over others may backfire. The worker who is rewarded may feel embarrassed to be made to stand out from the others, instead of maintaining status as part of a group. For example, the group-oriented nature of the Hispanic culture means that criticism should be made privately.