¡Feliz año nuevo! and welcome to “Light Bulb Moments”!  This is a new weekly feature that will be appearing in BenefitsPRO to provide easy, user-friendly tips for benefits and financial professionals, as well as employers who work with Spanish speakers.  As we all know, communicating issues like benefits in English is not easy — quite the contrary!  But most of us assume that making that information available to employees who speak Spanish is a pretty straightforward process.  What do we do?  We translate! If our message is in written form, we put our document into 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?

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

Light Bulb Moment Número 1:  Translation alone will not achieve the results you are looking for.  Let’s take a few steps back.  Imagine you take public transportation to work and don’t have a car.  Say your city has very good public transportation that is clean and reliable, and you occasionally use Uber or a rent a Zip Car to get groceries or do other errands.  Your kids walk to a nice, neighborhood school.  Your perception is that you are doing just fine.  A car might be nice at some point, but you really don’t need one, and if you had further room in your budget, you would use it for other more pressing priorities.  However, for some reason that is completely beyond you, your employer gives you this beautiful brochure that describes a car they want you to have (and pay for).  They make you sit through a long meeting that tells you all about the car—-it’s safety rating, its gas mileage, the anti-lock brakes, etc.  You have a brief look.  It seems like a nice car, but you don’t want a car, and you certainly can’t afford one.  Still, for some reason, your employer (and this other guy in a suit who is going through a Power Point) really think you should pay for this car.  What do you do?  You smile politely, wait for the meeting to be over, and sign some form stating that you will not be buying the car.  You hurry back to work (as you are now behind in meeting your goals for the day) and throw the brochure in the nearest garbage bin.

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