Language services specialist Prestige Network has delivered an innovative scheme to teach staff at Hull West JobCentre some basic Polish to help them communicate more effectively with their Polish customers.
Polish phrase cards have been issued to all staff so that they know sentences such as: "I know a few words in Polish" and "Do you speak English?" to "Are you here to look for work?" and "Are you waiting for an interpreter?"
And five key staff have undergone training in how to pronounce and speak common phrases, so they are even more confident.
The move follows a sudden influx of customers from Poland at the JobCentre this year, which led to front-counter staff feeling as though they wanted to do more.
Prestige was approached by Hull West JobCentre manager Iris Cooper who said that her staff were coming into contact with hundreds of Polish speaking customers on a weekly basis - some of the growing number of Polish people living and working in the Hull area of the UK - without being able to communicate with them effectively.
"It can be very daunting looking for work somewhere far from home and we feel that we are now able to provide a friendlier service. For many Polish people, the interaction with us provides their first real impression of this country."
"The first stage was a phrase card, which has now been shared with other JobCentres throughout the country, and the second stage was when a training coordinator came to give us tuition in how to say some of the smaller phrases. With the more complicated phrases, we can still just hand the card to the Polish customers. We always have the facility to call for a full in-depth interpreting service if we need it at a later stage.
"Our five floor managers at our front forum have benefited from this most because it is their job to speak to jobseekers when they first come to us. They establish what a jobseeker’s situation is."
Iris said that the whole project has been a very positive experience for everyone. And she added: "This has really improved our customer service. The customer reaction has been amazing - the Polish people are so pleased that somebody can speak the basics of their language.
She said: "Our Polish customers are genuinely here to look for work and we really want to help them find employment. We came up with the most common, simple phrases and asked Prestige to help us with the basics so that we would be able to provide a better customer service.
Aleks Messenger, Head of Polish sector at Prestige Network, said: "Cultural and language divisions in communities can be a big problem, so it was very satisfying to be involved in this project. Teaching the JobCentre staff basic phrases in Polish, applicable to the situation, has helped Polish jobseekers feel more engaged with the staff at what must be a difficult time for them - searching for work far from home. We were very keen to be able to help in this way. "
Prestige Network can be contacted on 0870 770 5260.
Note to editors:
For more information, contact Susan Tolman (PR Executive) at Prestige Network on 0870 770 5260 or Shawn Khorassani (Business Development Director).