A Guide To Training For Spanish-Speaking Employees

Hispanic employees (and other Spanish-speaking employees) are increasingly becoming one of the most pivotal segments of the American workforce. According to Training Today, the Spanish-speaking and Hispanic workforce increased 36% times more quickly than any other group between 1996 and 2006. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Hispanic employees will account for more than 15% of the entire American workforce by 2050, and the Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. Hispanic population will make up 40% of employment growth over the next five years, and a whopping 75% from 2020 to 2034.

A Guide To Training For Spanish-Speaking Employees

The Wall Street Journal also said the following:

“Job growth among the Hispanic population is particularly notable given that the growth of the non-Hispanic working age population is set to slow to near zero as the number of new non-Hispanic workers will barely match the drop from retiring baby boomers, according to the study from IHS Global Insight, an economic forecasting firm.

The forecast sees Hispanic labor-force growth set to accelerate by an average 2.6% over the next 20 years, even as the labor force will grow by 0.6% for the country as a whole from 2020 to 2034.”

The Hispanic population is also going to be a key factor in U.S. employment growth in terms of age. About 45% of the Hispanic labor force in 2013 was younger than 35, which compares to about 1/3 of the non-Hispanic workforce.

With this information in mind, one of the biggest issues employers are facing is how to most effectively manage Hispanic employees, who represent an increasingly growing share of the workplace. More specifically, employers are wondering how they can address the training and development needs of their Spanish-speaking and Hispanic employees most effectively. 

The Current State of Training

As it stands right now, native Spanish speaking employees are trained very minimally in many workplaces. They usually will participate in classroom training where an interpreter just translates what’s being said to the Spanish speakers.

There isn’t a lot of consideration given to the engagement of the Spanish speakers or limited English speakers in many workplaces. If Spanish-speaking trainees have areas they don’t understand or where information may be lost in translation, they might not feel comfortable interrupting training for clarification.  

The risks of this style of ineffective training are numerous, and can include the following:

  • If safety, OSHA or compliance training isn’t effectively delivered to all employees, including those for whom English may be a second language, the risks are huge. These risks can include accidents in the workplace, as well as fines and even lawsuits which will be the burden of the company.
  • If you’re not properly training Hispanic employees, the result can be a reduction in productivity. Strong training is one of the best ways to keep employees engaged and working at a maximum productivity level, yet many of Hispanic workers don’t receive the opportunities that comes with adequate training and development.
  • Without proper training, Hispanic employees can become frustrated, and that can lead to high turnover rates for a business.

So what’s the solution?

Multilingual and Spanish-Language Training

If you have a business with Spanish-speaking employees, create training that speaks to their needs. Use Spanish language training courses.

Many training experts say the best thing to do is provide training in the employees’  native language, even if they have a strong grasp of English.

Studies and learning theories show comprehension and retention of training materials are most effective in an employees’ native language, and a large reason for this is because employees can give their full attention to content, rather than trying to mentally focus on translating materials. 

Think you don’t have the budget or resources to create separate Spanish language training?

e-Learning offers the opportunity to do just that, without investing huge amounts of time or money into the process.

A few tips for the creation of multi-lingual training creation include:

  • When you’re creating e-Learning, it’s best not to use a translation tool, but instead partner with a native Spanish speaker who can help you. It can be best to find a current employer or even a manger who knows Spanish, but also your workplace. This person can become a valuable partner to not only helping you translate the language properly but also to help you understand cultural nuances, which we will detail a bit more next.
  • Creating training for your Hispanic employees isn’t just about changing the language. There are cultural considerations to keep in mind, such as how you speak to the employee, how you speak about others in training, and also the images and videos you show.
  • Keep in mind that not all Spanish speakers are going to have the same background. Before creating e-Learning, you will need to do research to most effectively target your particular employees. For example, whether or not your employees are primarily from Mexico versus Central or South America is critical to understand. Just as you create customized e-Learning based on employees’ backgrounds and educational needs, you should create training for Spanish speakers based on where they’re from, their culture and their dialect to maximize effectiveness.
  • Remember, temporary employees need to be trained as well. OSHA has defined training procedures and guidelines in place aimed at temporary workers including Spanish speakers, and this is something you should consider. Temporary employees who aren’t trained can contribute to situations involving injuries and even death, but luckily e-Learning provides a realistic way to train even these temporary workers in their native language.
  • In addition to creating multicultural and multi-lingual e-Learning, you might also consider putting a point person in place so Spanish-speaking and Hispanic employees will have someone to go to if they do have questions about any content.

Having a diverse workforce is one of the best ways to improve your competitiveness and set the stage for your future success. Remember, along with a thriving workforce comes the responsibility to ensure all employees are thoroughly trained, regardless of their native language or background. Invest as much in Spanish-language training as you do English training, and you’re likely to see an excellent return on your investment.

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