Looking at the soul of the immigrant worker and organizational culture: How US companies employing native Spanish-speaking workers may increase employee commitment, productivity, and their bottom line.

Managing Millions of "Invisible" Workers: Employing Spanish-Speaking Immigrants (Part I)

Managing Millions of "Invisible" Workers: Employing Spanish-Speaking Immigrants (Part I)Copyright 2006 Relational SensibilitiesRecent events have highlighted challenges related to the illegal immigrant workforce in the United States. Many of the immigrants at the center of the debate are from Mexico in numbers well above 10 million. This discussion focuses expressly on the reality that Spanish-speaking immigrants, whether legalized or not, are a significant presence in the U.S. workforce, especially in certain industries. The fact that these immigrants are associated with low paying, physically demanding jobs is a given. For many in the United States the protests, boycotts, and debates have brought a population to the forefront of American discourse that, for all intents and purposes, has been operating in the background of our economy as a relatively invisible class.10 COMMON CHALLENGES1.Effective written communication of policies and procedures that Spanish-speaking employees can relate to and understand2. Identifying professional or trade-related development opportunities3. Recognizing the value and individuality of the workers4. Aligning the workforce with the companys vision, mission and values5. Encouraging and incorporating employee innovations and suggestions6. Handling chronic absenteeism and/or tardiness7. Instilling employee commitment that mirrors their loyalty to one another8. Lack of participation in company sponsored English as Second Language courses9. Explaining the importance of each workers contribution to the companys success so they become more confident and creative10. Understanding how divisions among language groups and/or geographic country of origin impact teamworkThere are no easy solutions and the answer is not to throw blame on one party, country, group or one another. Employers can benefit from learning about cultural differences to improve their organizational culture through processes that build on the strengths and values of their employees. Before an organization can clearly see the potential of Spanish-speaking employees, it is important to understand certain key cultural reference points.All generalizations by definition have exceptions and this discussion does not pretend to accurately describe every person who speaks only or primarily Spanish. But there is value in considering common cultural phenomena influencing work behavior. It is important to understand that the separation between religion and individual identity, collective culture and government do not exist or are much fuzzier for Spanish-speakers than for mainstream Americans. The great majority of Spanish-speakers are Catholic and the values of the Church are woven through every aspect of society. Immigrant Spanish speakers in the United States are going to experience ongoing culture shock due to this.This is not to say that everything Latin American Governments or citizens do is in line with Catholic values. However, it does provide a societal frame of reference that, while not always practiced, underlies all communication and action. Employers might be mindful of religious holidays and ceremonies that may disrupt production schedules. As members of a collectivist culture, Spanish speakers value not only immediate family but also extended family and related activities. Thus, employers might consider the importance of family commitments when examining leave policies and other benefits.Spanish-speaking people are not homogenous and are, in fact, very sensitive to divisions based on skin color, heritage, education, and socio-economic status. North American values that have evolved through the course of U.S. history, such as gender equality, freedom of religion, and a pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you can be anything you set your mind to be mentality are not instantly understood by Spanish-speaking workers. It is much more common for such individuals to see themselves as members of a certain class with parameters that limit educational attainment, employment opportunities, and earning potential. Some Spanish-speaking workers have distrust of official institutions and policies due to more overt ethical issues pervading law enforcement, government and businesses in their countries of origin. This can result in employees that would be much more likely to simply walk off the job and disappear than to report harassment or suggest ideas that would improve productivity and reduce frustration. Sharing strong clear organizational values, building trust and fostering open communication in the workplace can all function to increase employee trust and participation.Immigrant Spanish speakers tend to have a very strong collective sense of humor. They are masters at idiomatic expressions, sayings, wordplay, stories, and jokes. They often make time pass much more quickly, whether doing a boring task or taking a long car trip, through verbal repartee. This implies a tacit preference for social contact and verbal face-to-face communication over individual work and other communication methods like email or memos. For instance, a great deal of cultural knowledge has been transferred via oral traditions such as corridos or folk songs that used to convey news and events, but now more often have political undertones. Also, everyone in Mexico knows a great number of rancheras or other traditional songs that provide a unifying sense of identity. There is no such phenomenon in the US today.The above list of challenges and the cultural reference points shared here are meant to illustrate the complexity of the Spanish-speaking workforce. In Part II of this article we delve more deeply into business strategies to further maximize the contribution and development of immigrant workers.

4 tech must-haves for your mobile office

4 tech must-haves for your mobile office

Everything changes when you trade in your desktop for a laptop and your office for a hotel room.

Sometimes this is for the better: You're liberated from your cubicle and free to go where your work takes you.

But sometimes things change for the worse. Productivity suffers when you're in an unfamiliar place. The way a laptop keyboard cramps your hands is sometimes enough to keep you from getting the job done right.

Here are four technology "must-haves" for the mobile office, plus some tools that can boost your productivity while you're away.

The Right Software

It isn't just downloading the necessary applications onto your laptop or PDA, it's also knowing whether the programs are suited to a mobile office. Is your email program built for the road or adapted from a bigger application meant for a corporate network? Do the programs work together on your laptop or do they freeze when your processor gets busy?

These considerations can become big issues when you're travelling. That's something Tab Stone, a doctor from Los Angeles, knows all too well. He installed a new email program on his laptop before leaving on a recent trip, but it wasn't suited for mobile use. He had to uninstall it shortly before takeoff, but that disabled his backup email program. That meant he couldn't download any messages to his PC. "I could not fix whatever was corrupted with either a fresh download or a copy downloaded from the internet," Stone recalls.

The latest: Contact-management software programs let you integrate data with your PDA, so you can download and synchronise contacts, calendar appointments and notes to your Palm Pilot or Pocket PC. There's also a web-based version for travellers who either lose their laptops or prefer to work from a desktop at their destination.

What's next? Look for more integration between applications for wireless users. Contact managers are already assuming the role of email program, address book and database. The next step is making it more accessible to people who are using cell phones or PDAs.

The Right Hardware

I'm not talking about owning the newest laptop computer. I'm talking about hardware that's created for life on the road. Let's face it: A lot of the gadgets on which mobile professionals depend aren't made with travellers in mind. For example, when Joachim Martin's laptop battery ran out on a recent flight, a helpful flight attendant offered to recharge it in a "secret" outlet in the back of the plane. "The batteries charged," remembers the software developer. "But when I got home, they were dead." The power source had to be replaced. Blame the airline, the battery manufacturer or even the unfortunate business traveller for not knowing better, but this kind of thing happens often. Phone plugs don't always fit; neither do power outlets. And a lot of the gadgets we rely on are traveller-hostile, impractical or both.

The latest: Some hardware manufacturers are meeting the demand for traveller-friendly hardware with add-ons such as the Stowaway XT Keyboard. I've also been impressed with Microsoft's Mini Optical Mouse, which frees you from the restrictions of your laptop's finger-cramping pointer.

What's next? As the convergence between cell phones, PCs and PDAs continues, it wouldn't surprise me to see devices that offer the ergonomic comfort of a desktop with the portability of a PDA. It won't come a moment too soon for many road warriors.

The Right Connections

Connections are everything to the mobile office.

Remember Stone, the doctor without email? He eventually accessed his messages through an unwieldy web connection. Spencer Field, who recently returned from a trip to Melbourne, can also tell you about email trouble. He learned upon arrival that the dial-up numbers to his internet service provider (ISP) didn't work. "I thought that was probably the end of my online access," he says. "As a last-ditch effort, I let my fingers do the walking and checked out the Melbourne Yellow Pages for a local ISP." He found one and signed up for a one-month email account which gave him access to local numbers on his entire itinerary.

It isn't just internet connections that matter, but also hooking up to other devices such as cell phones, PDAs and laptops. Technologies such as Bluetooth let you communicate with other devices in an office or hotel room without the need for cables.

The latest: According to a recent AT&T study, the top barrier to working from a remote location is access to a high-speed data connection. Fast wireless networks are springing up everywhere in hotels, airport lounges and coffee shops. And even though Bluetooth got off to a slow start, the concept behind it which is to lose the wires is fundamentally sound.

What's next? It won't be long before Wi-Fi is as ubiquitous as cellular coverage and a majority of devices are Bluetooth-enabled. That's good news for those of us who work in a mobile office.

The Right Web Applications

Web-based applications are so important to the mobile office that I've decided to give them their own category, even though they technically belong in the "software" section. The web is one of the most efficient ways for a mobile worker to gain access to a back-office system, intranet or database.

My ISP offers a rudimentary application that lets me check my email from the web. I can't remember how often I've had to use it because my email program failed to work properly. But I do remember the last time. I was stuck at a meeting out-of-town and my email account had sustained a spam attack thousands of unsolicited messages that would have taken hours to download. Instead, I logged on to the web and deleted them all in seconds. Were it not for the web application, I would probably still be downloading the spam.

The latest: One of the most innovative Web applications is GoToMyPC , which lets you access the desktop in your home or office through the web. Another useful application for mobile users is web conferencing services such as Microsoft Office LiveMeeting.

What's next? Expect these applications to become cheaper, more reliable and even more sophisticated.

Make Your Ad Copy Count

Make Your Ad Copy Count

Ever find that some ads just dont quite get the pull as well as others? Maybe some flounder while others even failed miserably. And you just seem to have a little difficulty figuring out what works and what doesnt.Well, start counting. Here are some pointers on what makes good ad copy work.1. Compelling Headline Look around. What grabs your attention in todays newspaper or main ezine headlines? Check the New York Times and USA Today. Use buzzwords or whatever it takes. Reach out and grab your targeted industry reader.2. Sub-Structure Readers today have tired eyes. The Internet and email keep growing and cranking out more and more each day. So make your copy appealing. Chop up your copy by using sub-headings and bullet points. Dont make people read endlessly to find major points.3. Contact People want to communicate and not just toss money away. Offer a phone number with a human on the other end. Skip the automated menus and elevator music. You dont like it; your clients dont either. You are busy; so are they. Tune into THEIR needs.4. Order Options Buyers want choices. So give them some. Set up ordering via as many ways as possible; email links, toll-free phone and fax number, online and postal forms. One size doesnt fit all here.5. Free-something People want free samples, trials, bonuses or anything.6. Price Dont shy away from sharing price at least a range. Dont irritate readers and make them search. How much? Make it clear.7. More info Offer a place for people to learn more. Make they reply email address a domain name with information, maybe a free ebook or report with photos, testimonials, etc. In other words, dont have readers reply to; have them reply to Be creative!8. Ad Errors Test your ad BEFORE it goes out. Do you links work that you mention? Does the phone number work? What does the voicemail recording say on the phone? Does your email address work that youve included? Make sure to check details and look for spelling and grammar errors.9. Legibility Can you read it? Is there so much content that your ad is too tiny to read? Make sure to see a proof beforehand. Then print it out and look it over.10. Font Dont get fancy & use scripts that people cant read. Keep it simple!In summary, before you head to the press with your next "ad copy" , count and see how many good points youve covered. Put your copy to work and make it a return on your investment, not a write off.

Pay 50 Cents, Make 25 Dollars!

Pay 50 Cents, Make 25 Dollars!

If you have never heard of affiliate marketing, or you have but you are not doing it, you are missing out on one of the world's greatest opportunities to make enormous amounts of money! Affiliate marketing is where someone advertises for another website and in return, that person receives commission for each sale their advertising brings to the website.To get a person to visit their site, you need to have them click through your affiliate link which has your special code in it so the company knows it was you who sent the customer there. The more people you send, the more chance there is of someone buying a product, obviously. So it comes down to one question: How do I get people to click on my affiliate link?The answer is simple. Pay for them to do so! There are many Pay Per Click advertising programs on the internet, such as Google Adwords, where you make a little ad, set the amount you're willing to pay for each click (usually between $0.05 - $1.00) and just sit back and watch the sales roll in!So let's say, for example, you paid $0.50 to send someone to a website and they buy a $50 product, and you earn a 50% commission, then you just made $25 - $0.50 = $24.50! Now imagine doing this a couple hundred times a day! All you did was set up a little ad and you watch the profits roll in!Surely, not every person is going to buy something, but even if 1 in 50 buys, you're still ahead! Now set this up over and over again, and you could be on your way to earning HUGE amounts of cash every single day for the rest of your life!

Cost Effectiveness of IT Outsourcing

Small businesses have been contracting computer consultants to fix their computers for many years. Usually this is because they have a small number of computers and hiring someone full time to maintain these small networks is not economical or efficient.This article will focus on the three main benefits that companies experience when they choose to outsource their computer services through a third party. They may even employ or have employed their own IT staff in the past.#1 Save Money & Time. Computer consultants are very cost effective, efficient and time saving, especially if you contract them on a retainer basis. A retainer is a prepaid service fee, usually paid monthly. This retainer service contract puts the consulting firm on call and no matter when, what, or how long it takes the firm to solve the problem they are legally and ethically bound to fix it so long as the services rendered are in the boundaries of the service contract. The more time the consultant spends the less per hour they make, intrinsically motivating them to be efficient. If your network is down and you are losing money by the minute, you will feel comforted to see this computer consultant firm onsite fixing the problem.#2 Increased Company Performance. When hiring a computer consulting firm you are getting the combined experience of the whole firm plus all of their partners and resources. Even if your company has a full time IT person or two they may not have all the expertise needed to create the dependable robust IT solution needed to solve your problems. A consulting firm will complete the project with a more reliable and robust solution because their combined ability is greater. A more robust and reliable IT solution will boost your performance as a company.#3 Professional Courtesy. A computer consulting firm is a different company than yours. Like you they are motivated to keep their clientele and expand their market share. Their reputation is the most important advertising tool they have. They compete against other IT firms, usually generating referrals to gain market share, a better reputation is worth its weight in gold. Thus they are naturally motivated to provide superior overall service to you.In conclusion, outsourcing your IT can save your company money due to less down time, increase your companys performance due to more reliable and robust IT solutions, and give you superior overall service because they compete for your business.

7 marketing mistakes to avoid when promoting your business

Many people rush into business thinking it will be easy to run, but very soon they realize that it is not as easy as it looks. A successful business is a finely tuned machine. In order to keep your business running smoothly it is important to avoid making mistakes. Here are the 7 most common mistakes to avoid:1.Not having clear objectives: Many business people start a business without clear objectives. They fail to set realistic goals for their marketing and consequently set themselves up for failure. It is important to make a list of goals and objectives based on a quarterly time line. If you do not have company goals and objectives you are like a car driving without a road map. Make sure all employees are briefed on company objectives. When your employees are not properly prepared you will not be able to achieve company objectives.2.Neglecting to analyse your potential customers is a dangerous mistake. It can lead to many problems. When you do not analyse your customers wants and needs you do not know what products and services to develop for them. This will lead to targeting the wrong market and neglecting to understand your own niche market. It is important for any business to do their marketing analysis so that you can target your market and maximise your sales. 3.Not testing: By not testing your sales copy and places you advertise with split testing your advertising, you will be losing sales. Split testing is simple to do but many businesses fail to do this. This results in a lot of wasted time and effort. If you do not test your ad copy and marketing promotions you will not have a proper idea of the ads and promotions that are pulling and what is not working. It is simple to do by placing 2 ads for the same product in a publication or website etc. You can then see which one is performing the best.4.Not budgeting: Budgeting is extremely important in business. Your business should never run out of money. This is especially true with your marketing and advertising ventures. It is important to have a monthly or quarterly budget for your marketing. Within that budget put aside money for each promotion you will be doing. Start small, test and then build on successes. This will allow you to always stay solvent and have enough for promotions.5.Giving up too soon: Companies go out of business at an alarming rate these days. One of the reasons is that the owners give up too soon. Just when success might be just around the corner they give up and decide to close the business down. In exactly the same fashion marketing promotions can fail. You need to give your promotions at least 3 months before you decide to scrap them. Some promotions will take longer than others to bring results. As always, test all marketing tactics before you launch a larger promotion. Patience is one of the hallmarks of business and you need to implement it. 6.Poor sales copy: How often have you wanted a product but when you read the sales page you had serious doubts? Poor unprofessional ad copy will cost you sales. In fact without good sales copy you will not be able to sell effectively at all. It is critical to your business to get this right. If necessary get an experienced copywriter to do this. It is worth the investment, as you will see returns when you make sales. 7.Not screening your employees carefully: To handle the extra load for the Christmas season you will need to hire new employees. It is very important not to rush into this. There is no dearth of people needing employment but you need to screen them carefully before hiring. One rude customer service agent can cost you customers. Do not take this type of risk. You want to preserve the integrity of your company at all times and screening employees is the way to achieve this. You will then be able to build a core of loyal professional employees that will be an asset to the company.The golden rule is to diversify. You should always use multiple forms of marketing promotions in your business. Do not just do one or two promotions and then wait for results. This will slow company growth and your business will stagnate. The last thing you need is to slow your marketing in the Christmas season. So remember to diversify and enjoy the increase in sales.By avoiding these mistakes you will take your company to the success you deserve. You will be able to have year round success for your business and really be able to cash in on the Christmas season. So plan ahead and be careful not to make these common mistakes.


Looking at the soul of the immigrant worker and organizational culture: How US companies employing native Spanish-speaking workers may increase employee commitment, productivity, and their bottom line.