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Workplace Literacy Matters – How to Communicate (Part 2)

July 20, 2023

By Linda Olejniczak, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner ASE

If your workforce has lower literacy levels, it’s important to adapt your communication strategies to ensure effective understanding and engagement.

Here are some approaches you can take to communicate with a workforce that may have difficulty reading or writing at a high level:

  • Use simple and concise language: Avoid jargon, technical terms, and complex language. Keep your messages clear, straightforward, and easy to understand. Use plain language and break down complex concepts into simpler terms.
  • Utilize visual aids: Using visual aids such as diagrams, charts, images, and videos to support your communication. Visuals can help convey information more effectively, especially for individuals who have difficulty reading or comprehending written text.
  • Provide hands-on demonstrations: Whenever possible, provide hands-on demonstrations or practical examples to illustrate tasks or processes. This can help employees understand and grasp concepts more easily.
  • Use verbal communication: Emphasize verbal communication by conducting meetings, one-on-one conversations, or group discussions. Speaking directly with your employees can help clarify information and address any questions or concerns they may have.
  • Utilize technology effectively: Leverage audio and video resources to deliver information in alternative formats. Record audio messages or create videos or podcasts that provide instructions or important updates. Visual and auditory mediums can be more accessible for individuals with lower literacy levels.
  • Provide written materials in simplified formats: If you need to provide written materials, make them as accessible as possible. Use larger fonts, simple sentence structures, and bullet points to present key information. Consider using visual cues alongside written text to enhance understanding.
  • Offer training and support: Partner with local organizations or educational institutions that specialize in adult literacy to offer support and resources to improve literacy skills.
  • Encourage questions and feedback: Encourage open dialogue and provide opportunities for employees to provide feedback in a way that suits their communication preferences, such as through verbal discussions or suggestion boxes.

Take the time to listen actively, show empathy, and demonstrate patience when engaging with your workforce. It’s essential to tailor your communication approach to the specific needs of your employees. By recognizing their limitations and employing appropriate strategies, you can foster effective communication and ensure their understanding and engagement in the workplace.

Read Part 1 of this series here.

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