Dr. John Fiset has received a national grant to explore the impact of a little-studied form of ostracism in the workplace.
Linguistic ostracism occurs when employees perceive that others at work have rejected or excluded them by using a language they don’t understand. It could be purposeful or unintentional, but the impact on employees is the same: they feel disconnected from their workplaces, which can lead to lower employee well-being and poorer performance.
In 2018, Dr. Fiset received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for a research project titled, The Tower of Babel: The effect of linguistic ostracism on employee withdrawal and occupational health and safety.
Focusing exclusively on the restaurant industry for its diverse workforce and high potential for injury, Dr. Fiset aims to explore how linguistic diversity may influence employee safety outcomes in the workplace, as well as ways to mitigate the risk.
“It’s a code, and if you have the key, it’s great,” said Dr. Fiset. “But if you don’t have the key, you may lose out on what’s happening.”
The purpose of the study, he adds, is to “highlight that this is an emergent diversity topic that needs to be discussed. [It] has implications for not only how employees behave but their own safety at work.”