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Different cultures at work: how to ensure safety and health

In recent years, the proportion of migrant workers within the European Union increased considerably and many workplaces therefore are now culturally different. It’s more and more important to deal with cultural differences in order to avoid misunderstandings due to poor communication, which reduces work conditions quality of and thus leading to a rapid staff turnover.

The report Different cultures at work: ensure safety and health through leadership and participation“, drawn up by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), advises companies how to be more proactive and focused on communication, change and training.

“A condition for a company success is to have healthy and motivated employees, especially in times of increasing pressure on market competition – said Christa Sedlatschek, Director of EU-OSHA – Migrant workers need to address specific language and culture issues: a situation also reflected in higher percentages of accidents and sickness leaves compared to local workers ”.

An interesting case is the BMW one, where a pioneer project t integrated workers from different countries: managers were trained on intercultural management and “health ambassadors” were introduced after been trained on topics related to health. They are mediators between their colleagues. The result was very positive and succeeded in overcoming language and social barriers between migrants and local German colleagues.

A mix of leadership and workers participation in these processes is one of the best performing methods for fostering a right and proper working environment for all employees.

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Posted in A world of Cultures, Featured, Intercultural Compass, Work In Progress: Management cultures in the world