PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
How Dual Language Support Benefits Your Construction Labor

How Construction Labor Benefits from Multilingual Software Support

Construction Productivity Software Helps Bridge Language Gaps

According to the Bureau Statistics of Labor, out of the 10.3 million workers employed in construction in the U.S., almost 3 million of those employed are Hispanic, or nearly 29% of total construction labor. This means that out of all industries in the U.S., the Latino population is the most well represented in the construction industry—but is the industry truly embracing communication with this huge section of their workforce?

As a native Spanish speaker myself, I understand how difficult it is to assimilate into a new culture and learn a new language. Recently, I became a U.S. citizen, empowering me to celebrate the diversity of my fellow citizens of the world. In particular, I feel compelled to help others embrace differences and bridge language gaps, one worker at a time. But can a large industry like construction really adapt to accommodate everyone’s language needs?

With the help of technology and software, language barriers can be significantly reduced and in many cases eliminated. For the construction industry in particular, the whole workforce and project benefits when software is utilized on the jobsite. In addition to improving collaboration, technology allows for seamless translation which reduces a project’s overall risk.

Below, I’ll discuss the top reasons why language support through software is important to projects. By opening up the doors for our workforce to be truly comfortable using technology in their own language, while still communicating with other team members using the same piece of software technology, jobsites and your whole staff will prosper.

Increasing the Collaboration of Your Field Team

You wouldn’t give your native English speakers instructions in Spanish, so why wouldn’t you give your Hispanic workers the ability to fully comprehend their work obligations in their native language? If you already have construction software that doesn’t have dual language support, you’re leaving a large percentage of your workforce to fend for themselves. Non-native English speakers may be giving it their best effort to understand and communicate with other team members while trying to make your company or project more competitive, but if you’re adding another level of work just for manual translation, productivity suffers and so could your bottom line.

Even if project managers and supers don’t speak Spanish themselves, there are solutions to provide your workforce with the relevant language support they need to excel at their job. To start, arm your field teams with construction productivity software that supports various languages. Certain construction productivity software, like PlanGrid, makes it easy, providing dual language options, which ensures that nothing will get lost in translation.

By empowering your workforce to use software in their native language, construction labor efficiency increases, allowing you to maximize your margins on your project, all while keeping your team happy and empowered to give their best on the job they were hired to do. If you give your Hispanic field team access to mobile software in Spanish, it lets them not only feel comfortable in their own shoes but allows them to become highly efficient by using a tool and software that is designed to make field teams more productive.

Improve Safety

Beyond increasing productivity and collaboration, safety is another important reason why dual language support is critical in construction. According to statistics, young Hispanic workers for small construction firms have the highest fatality rates of any group of workers in the country. However, this worrisome statistic can be lessened with the help of the right language support on the job.

On construction sites, our co-workers often become like family. We not only want to protect the individuals we spend so much time with, but the whole project faces scrutiny and potential shutdown if procedures aren’t in place to maximize staff safety. So why take the chance and not double down on safety precautions with the help of language support that could keep our construction family and projects safe?

Although language training in both Spanish and English can be valuable for a long term strategy, the risk due to human error in translation in the short term is too big to ignore. If one important job duty goes untranslated or misunderstood, Hispanic workers could be placing themselves unknowingly in an unsafe environment. Therefore, to truly ensure everything is translated correctly, at the right moment, software with capabilities in multiple languages allows potential hazards and dangers to be accounted for in real time.

Addressing the Construction Labor Shortage

Most general contractors are keenly aware that the labor shortage in the industry is real and a growing problem. In fact, according to FMI’s latest Talent Development Survey, 89% of construction firms surveyed reported worker shortages. Additionally, nearly 60% said their training, development, and performance management efforts were not very effective. We all know that representation from Hispanic workers is growing, but with construction labor gaps still an issue at large, how can we provide development to recruit and retain more of this interested workforce instead?

Software can not only help bridge the communication gap for your Latino workforce, but it provides them with valuable career development in their native tongue. Staff turnover in the construction industry remains high and a worker who feels like they can’t find their voice at a company might be quick to leave and seek alternative employment. All workers want to feel like a valuable asset to their job and company, but language barriers may inhibit this feeling of employee belonging and lower morale. But by giving each worker mobile and software skills to improve their own future marketability and sense of security, you increase your chances of both recruiting and retaining more and better staff.  

Provide Your Whole Team with the Right Language Support

In construction, our Hispanic coworkers are an extremely valuable and thriving segment of the workforce. One of the many reasons why construction is such a wonderful industry is the fact it provides opportunities to so many workers from all walks of life. But for any worker, being able to fully comprehend the job at hand in their native language will only lead to a better quality of work and feeling of belonging. The time has come to embrace diversity on your projects, not just culturally, but through full language support with construction software. As a result, jobsites will run more efficiently, safety concerns will be kept to a minimum, and you’ll get better, happier and more productive staff to complete your projects.

Barbara Acha

Bárbara Achá, bilingual economist, global software consultant, and early PlanGrid employee.

Barbara has worked with PlanGrid customers in various capacities from support to consulting and has implemented software at some of the world's biggest construction projects. She lives in the DC area with her husband, daughter, and dog and has a degree in Economics from Universidad Privada Boliviana in Bolivia.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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