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¡Feliz año nuevo! and welcome to “Light BulbMoments”!  This is a new weekly feature that willbe appearing in BenefitsPRO to provide easy, user-friendly tips forbenefits and financial professionals, as well as employers who workwith Spanish speakers.  As we all know, communicatingissues like benefits in English is not easy — quite thecontrary!  But most of us assume that making thatinformation available to employees who speak Spanish is a prettystraightforward process.  What do we do?  Wetranslate! If our message is in written form, we put our documentinto Spanish.  If we are conducting a meeting in person,we get someone with a decent knowledge of both languages (we hope)to repeat in Spanish what we are saying in English. Done! Check that box!  Mission accomplished, right?

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Well, not necessarily.  Whenever we educate employeesaround these issues, we are looking for certain results. They will choose to participate in the benefits or retirement planswe are offering.  They will use those plans appropriatelyand advantageously.  They will appreciate the blood, sweatand tears that have gone into assembling and rolling out thoseplans. These Light Bulb Moments will help youachieve the results you are looking for.  Translation isextremely important (future Light Bulb Moments will address this),but translation alone will not achieve the results you are lookingfor.

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Light Bulb Moment Número 1:  Translation alonewill not achieve the results you are lookingfor.  Let's take a few steps back. Imagine you take public transportation to work and don't have acar.  Say your city has very good public transportationthat is clean and reliable, and you occasionally use Uber or a renta Zip Car to get groceries or do other errands.  Your kidswalk to a nice, neighborhood school.  Your perception isthat you are doing just fine.  A car might be nice at somepoint, but you really don't need one, and if you had further roomin your budget, you would use it for other more pressingpriorities.  However, for some reason that is completelybeyond you, your employer gives you this beautiful brochure thatdescribes a car they want you to have (and pay for).  Theymake you sit through a long meeting that tells you all about thecar—-it's safety rating, its gas mileage, the anti-lock brakes,etc.  You have a brief look.  It seems like anice car, but you don't want a car, and you certainly can't affordone.  Still, for some reason, your employer (and thisother guy in a suit who is going through a Power Point) reallythink you should pay for this car.  What do youdo?  You smile politely, wait for the meeting to be over,and sign some form stating that you will not be buying thecar.  You hurry back to work (as you are now behind inmeeting your goals for the day) and throw the brochure in thenearest garbage bin.

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This is, very often, how your Spanish speakers feel about theirbenefits.  Employers and brokers are providing all kindsof information about a product they're not in the marketfor.  To continue the metaphor, maybe there are very goodreasons why you should consider the car.  Maybe you arelosing valuable time and money on public transportation and havinga car would permit you work more hours and earn someovertime.  You will benefit from some education, andrunning some numbers, but you do not need education about aspecific product—yet!  You need education about the rolethis type of product plays in your stability and how it mightimprove your life.

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Tune in next week for Light Bulb Moment #2!

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Melissa Burkhart is the founder and president of FuturoSólido, which provides a wide variety of Spanish language services,including written translation, on-site interpretation, and languageinstruction. They have successfully served such industries asfinance, insurance, landscaping, construction, manufacturing,health care, non-profit, and hospitality. To learn more,visit www.futurosolidousa.com.

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