The American workplace is a true melting pot of people and the languages they speak. While English is the primary language spoken in the United States, it is not the primary language for a portion of the working population. In fact, for about 41 million people – about 13 percent of the population – Spanish is their native language. The United States represents the second-largest Spanish-speaking country, second only to Mexico.
Depending on your industry, and even your geographic location, a portion of your workforce may be bilingual, have limited knowledge of English, or Spanish is their native (and only) language. In some industries, such as construction and landscaping, the US Department of Labor estimates that the native language for about a fourth of the workforce is Spanish, with little to no comprehension of English. This makes it extremely difficult for these workers to understand workplace English, even if someone is helping them with it. This is why employers need to consider incorporating Spanish in the workplace, especially with important documentation and instruction. The same is true of any other language, depending on your workforce needs.
Employment documentation is a key area where multilingual translations set your employees up for success. New employees benefit from multilingual employee handbooks, healthcare forms, and tax documentation. These efforts ensure that your new employee clearly understands the rules and guidelines for being employed. With tax forms, it also avoids the unintended consequences of filling out official government paperwork incorrectly, which could lead to an audit, financial penalties, or charges of tax fraud.
Finally, on a very basic level, multilingual employment documentation ensures that everything is filled out correctly and to the best of the employee’s knowledge. For example, given health care plan options, your non-English speaking employee can be confident they are choosing the right plan, such as single vs. family, or the correct deductible levels for their needs.
Providing workplace translation services, which Spanish-speaking employees also use to ask questions and receive answers in their native language, can also be immensely helpful in ramping up a new employee. It also shows your employees that you value their presence and are willing to take the extra steps to ensure that they can fully communicate.
Another important category where companies should incorporate workplace Spanish for landscaping, construction, or manufacturing employees is in the translation of safety manuals, OSHA documentation, and other safety-related information. Not only does this help ensure that workers stay safe while performing their job duties, but it also reduces the likelihood of OSHA workplace violations or incidents of job-related injuries, which can hurt your business. This is also an area where multi-lingual translation services can help in answering questions or further explaining critical safety information.