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April 5, 2021

HR Translation for Compliance and Employee Engagement

employee handbook translation

Last updated on May 7th, 2021 at 03:14 pm

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Human resources, whether a department or a single person, is found in every business and their effectiveness at communicating with employees and management directly affects the success of the company as a whole.
HR ensures compliance with all company policies, affecting everything from employee retention and satisfaction to safety, customer service, productivity, and legal liability. As such, it’s crucial to their success to having documentation in languages all employees can understand.

Companies that operate on a multi-national level may already have HR translation services in place, but these services are necessary even in companies that operate solely within the United States but have an employee diversity that requires Spanish and other languages.

As it becomes easier than ever to work remotely and hire internationally, accurate translation and interpretation services are the cornerstones of HR’s ability to do their job effectively and ensure the success of the workers and the company with multilingual communication.

Human resources translation is a unique part of translation services because it has its own terminology, combined with the unique terminology of the industry it serves. Due to the delicate nature of the responsibilities of HR, a professional translation company is necessary to ensure the translated documents are conceptually correct, industry-specific, and localized to optimize understanding.

Communicating the nuances and specificities of a company policy in a localized translation promotes employee accountability and productivity. Inaccurate or broad translations can result in confusion, lowered productivity, or even legal liabilities.

Why Provide HR Translations?

If you have a diverse workforce, with multiple languages locally and multiple nationalities around the globe, providing translated versions for all human resource documents benefits your company in several ways. It fosters a corporate culture of diversity and inclusion, which makes employees feel valued and respected. This can have a long-term positive impact on employee satisfaction and retention.

Here’s are 4 more ways in which having HR translation of documents in place can benefit your business.

1. Improved Policy Compliance

You have your procedures, rules, expectations, and consequences spelled out in a document to ensure a clear understanding and equitable levels of compliance across company roles. But even the best HR policies are often nuanced and influenced by cultural factors. In a multinational or multilingual company, internal policy translations are crucial to ensure everyone understands your rules and regulations.

Providing this sensitive information to your employees in their native language is the best way to ensure the highest level of understanding and compliance with company policies. Accurate and localized translations are essential to ensure all employees have the same understanding of the policies and expectations. HR translation services reduce the legal liability of a company and ensure all employees are treated equally and fairly.

This is especially important for documents such as the employee handbook. This document is the cornerstone of employee performance, so it’s of the utmost importance to ensure everyone in your company understands it. Even for companies based solely in the US, having a Spanish translation of the employee handbook is important for your Spanish-speaking workforce or in Chinese for your Chinese-speaking partners.

Confusion and misunderstanding around company policies can lead to unintentional violations and open the door to legal issues. Translating documents and providing the information in your employee’s first language mitigates and reduces this risk, protecting your employees and your company.

2. Increased productivity

Having accurate corporate translations is the cornerstone to increasing employee productivity. Providing training, procedures, intranets, and content around company policies in a language your audience understands empowers your employees to handle problems as they arise with the confidence that they understand company policy. It can also reduce miscommunications and redundancies created by language barriers.

Documents such as company procedures, training manuals, and employee benefits and forms are crucial, and have them accurately translated is a big plus. This effort gives employees the control they need to find crucial information when they need it, in the language they understand.

In the US, many companies would benefit from providing Spanish translations for all documents to increase the understanding for Spanish-speaking employees. This will help productivity since employees will be well informed of the processes and procedures to follow. This translation effort should cover survey, signage, and security information.

3. Engaged Employees

Keeping employees engaged is a challenge every business must tackle, and it’s made easier by providing documentation in the appropriate languages. The adage “one size fits all” does not apply to human resource documents and communications. These must be tailored for the appropriate audience to ensure the message is clear and easy to understand.

Providing translated documents improves the employee experience by making them feel like a valued part of the company. It creates a culture of equality, representation, and diversity. Improved engagement is a byproduct of satisfied employees.

Having HR content and operational documents translated are also an important part of supporting employee interaction with clients. If your customer-base or employee-base is multi-lingual, having accurately translated and localized documents can reduce customer frustration, employee miscommunication, and improve employee autonomy to handle problems as they arise, rather than constantly seeking guidance from HR and upper-level management.

4. Limit Legal Liabilities

One of the most important roles of the HR department is to protect the company and employees from unnecessary legal liabilities. Providing translated documents to all employees is a best practice that keeps your company covered from a legal basis.

Additionally, for companies that operate within multiple countries or countries with more than one official language, it’s important to provide equitable translation services for all documents to remain in compliance with local and national laws. In Canada, which is bilingual, the required language in documentation is dependent on the province. Some provinces require English documentation while others require French. In Canada, French translation services would be crucial to ensure compliance with local regulations and ensure employee understanding.

Examples of content and training materials that must be translated in recent years are sexual harassment courses and policies. In the US, this material must be translated and videos need to have voiceovers into Spanish and other languages for compliance. This helps limit legal liability in companies as the rules and concepts are explained in detail and with cases and examples.

The Importance of HR Interpretation Services

While many of the responsibilities of HR happen through written communications, live interpretation services are also necessary from time to time. For multi-lingual interviews, phone calls, or internal conversations, live HR interpretation is necessary.

These discussions involve sensitive, nuanced information. Having a professional interpreter ensures that the conversation flows smoothly, and information is conveyed accurately while including all the finer points of the language and cultural implications.

HR interpretation is used often during training courses, presentations, labor disputes, performance reviews, and in some cases during legal procedures.

The Importance of Spanish Translation Services

Even for companies that operate on a local or national level, translation services are vitally important. In the US, Spanish is the most common language after English, with 43 million US residents claiming it as their primary or home language. Between 2014 and 2024, the US Department of Labor predicts a 28% increase in Hispanic workers in the workforce.

This means it’s of the utmost importance for companies to provide Spanish translations for the human resources department to support the large population of Hispanic workers, ensure understanding and clarity with all policies, and foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Important Documents to have HR Translations in place

Employee Handbook

Your employee handbook covers everything from dress code and vacation times to serious legal matters like sexual harassment. Ensuring equitable understanding and compliance with these policies is key to improving employee engagement and reducing confusion or misunderstandings.

Training Videos and Materials

Proper training leads to better employee performance, increased customer satisfaction, and a safe and more pleasant workplace for everyone. Providing training and reference materials in your employee’s native language can decrease your long-term service costs. If you provide your employee with training videos, video translation services are the best way to ensure all your employees get the same information and level of understanding from the materials.

Safety Manual

Reduce the likelihood of on-site accidents and increase compliance with company policies by providing a translation of your company’s safety manual in the first language of your employees.

Additional Documents for HR Translations

  • Corporate websites and intranets
  • Employee Benefits Plans
  • Insurance Documents
  • Corporate communications such as internal memos and newsletters
  • Forms and Surveys
  • Signage
  • Year-end company presentation

Be Prepared with Translation Services

In many cases, the translation of documents and training material is an afterthought. Having an inventory of the documents helps and supports maintaining the language version of your documents so you can anticipate updates and keep them all up to date.

Once you have a diverse workforce, translation services of your HR material are the cost of operating a company in compliance, support productivity, and maintain a workforce that is informed, engaged and valued.

Here at JR Language, we can help you with the translation of your human resource documents to help you communicate effectively with your workforce. Contact us today and one of our PMs will work with you to find the best solutions to your HR document translation needs.

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela. Jackie has a BS in computer engineering; As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.