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It’s no secret that the workforce in the United States has changed drastically in the last twenty years. Poor economic and turbulent political conditions in many parts of the world have lead millions to seek a better life in America. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 25 million workers in the nation are foreign-born, the highest ever.
These changes to the labor pool demographics have presented both opportunities and challenges for American companies. Foreign-born workers bring with them a more diverse collection of skills and life experiences as well as lower labor costs. On the other hand, differences in language and culture make it more difficult for businesses to integrate and connect with non-native hires.
The Benefits of Communicating with Translations
Good companies strive to make sure their employees have the tools and skills they need to do their jobs well. Having clear, written policies and providing ongoing training in employees’ native languages can help increase worker productivity and engagement. Translated content can also lower the risk of potential lawsuits and other legal problems by communicating clear guidelines and expectations and providing employers with an additional method of due diligence.
Improving Comprehension and Integration
With English the dominant language in movies, music, pop culture and the Internet, it’s no wonder so many people, even in the most far-flung reaches of the globe, speak some English. Those who come to the United States in search of a better life are even more inclined to learn the language. However, knowing the words to a trendy pop song and understanding your company’s policies and procedures are two very different things.
No matter how much English a native speaker of another language learns, that other language will always be their first. Naturally, comprehension and learning are more effective in their mother tongue. Companies that take the extra step to reach out to them in their own language gain several advantages. Among these are better compliance with rules and regulations, improved safety and higher levels of engagement.
Saving Time and Money with Translations
Translated materials of your company’s most important information can also save your company time and money by reducing the time spent on training or retraining. In some cases, translating certain information may be obligatory. Many standards published by the Occupational and Environmental Health Administration (OSHA) require that training be provided to employees in a “language that they understand”, and a recent ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found a Colorado university discriminated against its Latino janitors by having English-only policies in place, a violation of federal employment law.
While it is always a good idea to learn the predominant language of the society in which one lives, that takes time. Good employers reach out to their non-English speaking employees and make sure they understand what’s expected of them and how to do their jobs more effectively. In the long run, translating employee handbooks and training is safer, smarter and, in some cases, the law.