It is important to have your company’s communications written and spoken in the manner in which all employees can understand. This may include translating your employment application, employee handbook, interpreting oral presentations, and training.

If you have a diverse workforce of Spanish-speaking employees, you will want to have your human resource tools and other forms of communication translated. For your employees to be successful, they must have a complete understanding of your company expectations, policies, and procedures. This can only happen if Spanish speaking employees have materials prepared in their language that they can understand.

Translating is an art, and translators must be completely bilingual and have a strong knowledge of both English and Spanish languages. Neglecting translation can lead to a lack of morale, safety issues, and potential legal proceedings.

By 2050, Hispanics are predicted to make up as much as 30 percent of the American workforce. That means it’s more critical than ever before that employers pay attention to the needs of their Hispanic employees when crafting their employee benefits packages, training materials (eLearning), safety (OSHA compliance) and other company materials.  Even when employees are bi-lingual, people learn quicker and easier in their native language, and feel appreciated.

Companies that translate their online material were found to be 1.5 times more likely to experience an increase in revenue. When you become able to speak to more of these users, you gain a competitive advantage.

Why Spanish Translation?

According to the 2015 US Census data, there were 57 million US Hispanics out of a total population of 321 million Americans (Krogstad 2016), accounting for 17% of the total population. The Pew Research Center forecasts that the Hispanic population will grow to 106 million out of 398 million, and to 119 million by 2060 (Passel and Cohn 2008). This projected shift would raise the number of Hispanics from 17.8% to over a quarter of the total US population by 2020, then up to 26.6% by 2050 and then up to 31% by 2060 (Krogstad and López 2014). These statistics show that Spanish translation is genuinely essential for any Hispanic workforce.

Here are some reasons why Spanish translation is essential for a Hispanic workforce:

  • Break Communication Barriers

One approach that has gained traction is to meet the staff in the middle of the language divide. By offering training in both English and Spanish languages, providing materials and signage in both languages, your Hispanic workers will feel valued. To make it better, introduce Spanish to management. When management takes the time to learn the language the staff speaks, both parties benefit. You will be better equipped to communicate with your staff, and your staff will feel more respected, heard, and part of the team. Furthermore, offering Spanish language training as an employee benefit can be a great tool to boost employee retention.

  • Flyers/Memos/Emails

Emails, flyers and other memos are a quick way to disperse information about what’s going on at your business. Translating them into Spanish along with offering them in English creates additional clarity and transparency within your business environment. It is always good to keep people aware, and doesn’t make a portion of your employees feel left out.

Any business that has a significant proportion of Hispanics should look to translate all company communication, such as emails, memos and flyers. This will not only ensure that every employee is up-to-date with the content of this communication, but it will also make all employees feel included and valued.

Foreign-born Hispanics and other immigrant groups have built-in cultural values, behavior patterns and ways of thinking that affect communication at the workplace. Employers who do not take the time to increase their awareness of these differences run the risk of miscommunication, decreased productivity and increased turnover.

  • Safety Manuals and Signs around the Workplace

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, approximately 48 percent of the 38.7 million Hispanic adults living in the United States have limited English proficiency (LEP). Yet many organizations lack the bilingual staff and resources necessary to serve Spanish workers adequately.

Safety has to be paramount in any workplace. If a large part of your staff speaks English as a second language, then translating safety manuals and signs will protect both them and you. From safety manuals for machinery to simple’ mind the step’ signs, many aspects should be considered.

Some years ago, a severe gas leak occurred at Tyson Foods when a Spanish-speaking employee misunderstood a warning label on a container. This could have been avoided if the company had invested in Spanish translation.

  • OSHA and Healthcare Forms

Failing to translate forms used to record injury and illness can lead to mistakes being made. If an employee does not understand the form and completes it incorrectly, legal, and ethical implications can arise. This can be costly for companies if it leads to compensation payouts. OSHA estimates workers are paid $1 billion per week in’ compensation. It is important for that OSHA compliance won’t get lost in translation.

Tax Forms

Having only an English version of tax forms can put your Hispanic speakers at a serious disadvantage. Filling in tax forms inaccurately due to misunderstanding can lead to them receiving less pay than they are entitled to. It could also result in accusations of tax fraud.

Offer training and Employee Handbooks in a correctly translated Spanish language

When a new employee joins a company, an employee handbook is a valuable resource for them. It tells them about the company procedures and policies and gives them a go-to reference for when they need information. By translating this into Spanish, you are ensuring Spanish-speaking members of staff have all the necessary information.

It is valuable to provide training sessions and employee handbooks incorrectly translated, clear Spanish. For most immigrants, training in their native language can help to ensure compliance with safety rules and harassment policies. As many unskilled workers have had little formal education, boost your translation with visuals and demonstrations to enhance learning.

Provide Spanish translations of materials that will be understood by all nationalities as terminology and idiomatic expressions vary. For example, some Mexican terms and expressions may be unfamiliar to those from other countries and vice versa. Yet, there are words that all nationalities will understand. As in the case of a legal document such as an employee handbook, you want to be sure that the translator is competent to provide the document in Spanish so that it will be legally compliant with your English-language document.

Often insurance companies will provide health insurance policies in Spanish and will provide Spanish-speaking customer service reps to explain these benefits. Spanish-language orientation classes will help these employees feel more comfortable and willing to ask questions. Seeing you make an effort on their behalf will boost morale and increase loyalty.

With 37 million native Spanish speakers in the US, the importance of translation in the workplace is increasing. This is becoming a significant part of the business for certain industries such as construction, where over a quarter of the workforce is Hispanic, with 10% being in managerial roles.Excellent communication is key to good service. In today’s global environment, communication with your Hispanic workforce is more important than ever. Failing to embrace this reality entirely could seriously jeopardize your business in the long run.

If you are looking for the right translation partner, ICD Translation is ready to assist you with any language or service that you need. Our cloud-based translation management system guarantees that you will enjoy a smooth translation process of the highest possible quality. 

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