According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population is projected to grow significantly over the next 10 years and into the future. With more than 50 million Latinos in the United States presently, the numbers are projected to represent more than 30% of the total population by 2050.

In the agricultural industry, foreign workers make up about 26% of the total labor force, with non-citizens making up the majority of that labor pool (22%).

In addition, the census reports the number of U.S. residents that cannot speak fluent English has more than doubled since 1980.

Companies that have overcome these challenges are taking a proactive and more accommodating approach in dealing with an international workforce. Successful companies do the following well:

• Learn to overcome language barriers;

• Learn new cultures and share their own;

• Develop an organizational culture that accepts and appreciates the differences that individuals bring to the workplace;

• Clearly communicate expectations so they are understood and followed by all employees;

• Communicate the organization’s vision;

• Implement programs from the top down so everyone is engaged;

• Help Hispanic employees integrate to the team, organization and community; and

• Are active in their communities and serve as an advocate for their employees.

To recruit and retain immigrant talent, employers should try to understand and be respectful of their employees’ cultures. And while it’s important to communicate, it’s even more important to connect with this new talent base.

Show employees you want to help them succeed at work, at home and as individuals. Ensure they receive proper training to do their jobs. Provide frequent encouragement, support and praise to let them know they are valuable members of your team and that they are important to your organization. Educate and warn them of scams and misinformation that can spread through job placement services, media or other sources that may not have their best interests in mind.

Think about the journey your employees have taken to reach your operation and the challenges they may face in finding their place in a new community. A welcoming community is one of the most important factors in keeping people in an area, regardless of where they’re from.

You can help facilitate a smooth transition for your employees by sharing American experiences and customs while remaining sensitive to theirs.

Employers are looking for talent, not just workers.
We want people to be comfortable and satisfied in their
positions.

Americans sometimes look at others as being different than us. We’re all the same. We all want the same things. We all want to be challenged, to work toward goals and to feel proud of being part of something.

Organizations and managers need to become more comfortable with cultural and other differences. To be successful, management must fully endorse the concept and permit questions and discussion among current employees to increase comfort levels and reduce potential conflicts. Whether we admit it or not, prejudices still exist and often are based on ignorance. 

Some managers have the attitude, “Why should I
recognize these people? They’re here; they’re getting a paycheck; they’re supposed to do their job.”

These managers are missing the point. They are not seeing the individual who wants to be recognized for a good job and is willing to do more. All people thrive on recognition and goal-setting. Given those two things, they can accomplish great things.

 

Editor’s Note: This sidebar was written by Orlando Gil, who owns and operates TCTS Global, LLC, a consulting company based in Iowa that helps businesses “bridge the gap” with Latino talent in agricultural and food-related industries. He is co-founder of the Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum, an event that brings industry, government and education together to explore ways to capitalize on Hispanic/Latino talent. He can be reached at (712) 240-0624, by email: info@tctsglobal.net, or visit www.latino
sinagriculture.org.