Is your company underutilizing its ESL speakers?
Three warning signs - and how to correct them
Sign 1: Missed Project Objectives
Communicating clear objectives and hitting them in a
consistent, predictable manner requires each member
of a team to be properly utilized. This includes ESL
speakers. Frequently missing deadlines can mean that
communication is failing and ESL speakers are not
being properly utilized. If a company does not have a
policy to include both ESL speakers and first-language
employees, communication breaks down and
Course Correction: Ensure all team members - ESL &
first-language - have the skills to communicate with
each other. Deploy appropriate training resources for a
project before beginning work begins so that
communication is clear and everyone is kept on task
until the project is completed.
Sign 2: Fast, Lopsided Burnout Rates
Poor utilization of ESL speakers typically results in ESL team members being underutilized while others become overutilized. This
can be seen in faster burnout rates in specific departments, teams, and positions. This can lead to quick turnover in specific areas
of the company, destabilizing teams and losing team members due to communication and cultural problems.
Course Correction: Encourage feedback from ESL team members regarding language and cultural communication. Involve first-
language speakers too. Redistribute communication responsibilities to balance out communication tasks across the organization
for less burnout and more equalized resource responsibilities. Normalized turnover rates will indicate that communication is likely
Sign 3: Lower ESL Employee Satisfaction
Being underutilized may mean that ESL team members do not experience a high level of burnout that comes from being
overworked, but instead results in dissatisfaction with daily work life. Boredom, lack of focus, and less enthusiasm for daily tasks
can all result from underutilization. These lower levels of employee satisfaction can have a negative impact on how all staff
resources approach their work, leading to further complications throughout an organization.
Course Correction: Encourage feedback from ESL team members and first-language team members regarding communication.
Redistribute responsibilities to ensure all employees share responsibility for clear communication. This leads to less burnout and
more equalized resource responsibilities. Normalized turnover rates will indicate that communication is likely improving.