Due to the recent oil production activity around the Bakken Oil formation, the population of Williston, North Dakota, and its surrounding communities has grown from approximately 13,000 to over 60,000 within the last two years. Many of the newcomers migrated to the area from outside the US.

Mercy Medical Center launched several diversity efforts to meet the needs of their growing community and the changing face of their workforce. Overcoming the language barrier was a primary concern, since English is not the first language of many of the Center’s 450 employees.

These initiatives not only help Mercy serve its diverse employee population, but also help the employees work together in harmony to produce great results and provide a high standard of patient care. One of the first initiatives provided a LanguageLine interpreter who helps applicants and employees successfully complete pre-employment testing and paperwork. For ESL employees subject to regulatory compliance education requirements via computer, Mercy created a program that provides one-on-one computer training. Other innovative programs have followed.

One such example is in the Environmental Services Department. Comprising 60 percent foreign workers, Environmental Services has effectively implemented broader systems that help accommodate employees struggling with language barriers, including a color-coded cleaning process that allows employees to match zones, tools, and processes by color and eliminates the use of lengthy checklists that can prove frustrating to them. The system allows for better training, which, in turn, leads to a higher retention rate and greater employee satisfaction.