Organizational & Staff Development

Building The Bridges That Bring People Together

Beyond Workplace ESL

Organizations in the US are evolving past awareness raising and diversity training. They have already embraced ethnic diversity in their organization, and now they want to maximize its benefits.  They want an organizational culture that facilitates self- and other- awareness. They want an effective, harmonious workplace.

People-Places-Things is at the forefront of the industry in improving workplace communication. Many skills for improving inter-lingual communication are not difficult to do, but they are also not intuitive. For example: one of the best things LEP employees can do is carry around a small notebook to write things down – even if they can’t write very well, they can use that to capture messages and share them with others. But without a workplace culture that promotes and uses this technique it will fall by the wayside. That’s why we are involved in ongoing staff development rather than one-time trainings. We want to see your workplace safer, more productive, and more connected – just like you do.

This isn’t a simplistic idea that everyone just needs to get along. Effective culture change might not even eliminate conflict in the workplace. What it allows us to do is separate out the elements of organizational dynamics so we can find and address the sources of misunderstanding.

In 2010, there were 23 million immigrants in the US labor force, and nearly half of them classified themselves as Limited English Proficient (LEP), according to Census data analyzed by the Migration Policy Institute.

The Golden Keys to Effective Workplace Communication:

  • Effective communication involves a set of skills that must be practiced – which is why we de-emphasize isolated workshops, powerpoints and information-based trainings
  • Communication happens between people in a community – As with all social skills, you have to practice them with other people – like dancing
  • Communication is highly contextualized – No two workplaces are alike and we need to understand your organizational culture in order to develop the right approach to culture change – there is no one-size-fits-all

When communication challenges surface in the multiethnic workplace, non-native English speakers are often identified as the source of the problem. And there’s good reason for this – inter-lingual communication really is difficult and miscommunication really does happen. But miscommunication between speakers of different languages can disguise or intensify other needs for organizational development – hiring policies, training materials, employee behavior, or coaching strategies, among others.

Here are some of the ways we can work together to reveal the unique promise of your organization:

Workplace Communication Assessment – We’re happy to meet with you at no cost to understand your situation and create a customized bid to assess your organization’s communication challenges and goals. Because workplaces are dynamic and complex, it’s not always easy to determine what the best solution will be until we really get to know you. The assessment may involve interviewing staff, shadowing or observing, focus groups, or other techniques.

Cost: Varies on the depth of assessment

Language & Culture Skills for the Workplace – Language skills development for LEP staff will frequently be a part of the solution if you have a number of LEP workers on staff. We will design a program that works for your staff’s scheduling needs and communication goals with demonstrable, customer focused outcomes and manager involvement. P-P-T recommends having employees pay for half their class time, and the organization pay for the other half.

Cost: Typically $400/ 8 class session (each class is usually 1.5 hours)

Buddy SystemWhen your biggest challenge is the communication between LEP staff and English-fluent staff, one of the fastest, least expensive ways to bridge that gap is to create a buddy system. We do this by taking advantage of areas of frequent miscommunication and turning them into learning and connecting opportunities. This will often include support and coaching for English-fluent staff to recognize the signs of miscommunication and turn them around in a way that preserves dignity; while at the same time, boosting the confidence of LEP staff to reach out and connect.


  • $100 for initial start up, which includes a one hour training session for English-fluent participants.
  • $30/hour for ongoing support, which can be structured in several ways depending on scheduling demands.

 Train & Explain – You can build language skills development right into your training process, and start new staff on the right path. This is excellent for hands-on work such as production, housekeeping, construction, or landscaping.

Cost: Varies – We can design curriculum for your staff, and/or do the training alongside your HR staff

Intercultural Communication for HR Staff – Your Human Resources staff is responsible for hiring, delivering critical information, and ensuring a harmonious, productive workplace. Preventing and resolving miscommunication is their job description. From advising about current best practices, to one-on-one consulting, to recommendations about making materials more accessible, we can power up your key staff and making lasting change with minimal time and cost.

Cost: No-cost consultation to determine the best fit for your organization