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Managing a Multi-cultural Workforce - Coursework Example

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Modern transport and communication, along with political structures like the European Union, have simply increased the diversity of people working on any one site. Health and Safety is a major concern in the construction industry, and there is a vast international literature on the subject, partly because this type of work is inherently more dangerous than many other types, and partly also because of the complex and often project-based nature of the working environment, involving many different participants, often coming with very different backgrounds, experience and culture. One of the difficulties of researching multicultural workforce issues is the fact that there is a huge spectrum of practice across the world: “The way in which OHS (=Occupational Health and Safety) is dealt with in different countries is a function not only of legislation, but also of the underlying culture, the attitudes of those involved, and, more importantly, the social, economic and political environment... Systems that may work well in, say, the United Kingdom, may not work well at all in Australia or Hong Kong.” ( p. 88) An important implication of this diversity across the world, is that migrant workers moving from one country to another bring with them a knowledge base, a set of attitudes and tendencies, and a whole world view that may be very different from those of their fellow workers. The problem for managers is how to ensure that a multi-cultural workforce shares important values and knowledge, especially in the area of Health and Safety, and follows the requirements of the particular site that they work in. 2 Literature review on SHE challenges faced in respect of multi-cultural workforce. One noticeable feature of a multi-cultural workforce is the fact that the workers may have very different linguistic backgrounds, while the situation on a construction site is usually such that one particular language is officially used for work related communications. This official language of the site in question may or may not be the language of the location where the project is running, and problems can arise when a proportion of the workforce does not have adequate language skills in the main language of communication. This results in sub-groups within the workforce who communicate with each other in their native language, but struggle to join in with the official and or local language context. These groups can become isolated, and vulnerable to being left out of the loop of company planning, training and information processes. A study conducted on a multi-cultural workforce in Australia analysed the safety implications of this “ghettoization” and found that there are often distinct patterns in the workforce so that for example “Italians tend to concentrate in concrete trades, Croations in carpentry trades, Koreans in tiling trades, Maoris in steelwork and scaffolding and Irish in labouring etc” (Trajkovski and Loosemoore, 2006, p. 1) This tendency means that there is often a three way professional, cultural and also linguistic demarcation in the workplace, and this presents a significant challenge for managers who are responsible for the Health and Safety of these workers. In theory there could be several conflicting models of behavior, supported by their own language and culture, operating simultaneously, and this has an obvious potential for misunderstanding and system failure when these areas interact with each other. Trajkovski and Loosemoore conducted a survey on multicultural construction workforces in ...Show more


Managing a multi-cultural workforce. 1 Introduction. The term multi-cultural workforce is being used these days to describe the way that the construction industry contracts and sub-contracts its workers from an increasingly wide and diverse pool of people…
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Managing a Multi-cultural Workforce
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