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The Emphasis of Bilingual Communication in Employee Benefits

Monday, April 1, 2019
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By: Raul Aguilar, Bilingual Communications Specialist

When discussing insurance and benefits concepts, these are typically challenging and difficult to communicate as it is. Throw in other languages to the mix, and things begin to take on another level of complexity. Let us step back for a minute – no matter the native language, explaining employee benefits is difficult, period!

Coming from a communications professional, this line of work teaches concise delivery and a thorough understanding that it can be challenging for HR Departments to share the options and values of benefits in which employees are offered. 

Within the communications or translations role, there is one major goalto deliver a unified message (from the specialist and corporate level) to impact a company’s timeline and needs in a positive manner. That goal is achievable with the help of focused and effective areas, as explained below.

  • Aesthetics are as important as the content. Regardless of language, delivering marketing material with language at an insurance expert level will deter someone from reading the message. Losing someone in the message means losing the value of the written material to the user, as the item is no longer seen as a resource to aid in his or her election process.
  • Translation is only one part, and through interpretation and active listening, one can help understand the barriers to comprehension. Presenting and interpreting a message sets the stage for the required action items. It lays the groundwork for our task during the allotted time, but also helps to obtain the details of the message.  If an employer audience misunderstands or raises questions, you can then discover these and explain the items to hopefully provide a universal understanding where the majority of the group can comprehend.
  • No matter the language, use non-technical terms and bite-sized phrases to convey the message. Taking huge insurance concepts and trying to relay them to a group may seem like a hefty task, but insurance professionals should have the vocabulary and ability to provide bite-sized pieces that resonate with the listener for thorough understanding. It is then our responsibility to reach out should there be additional questions and let the audience know we are here to assist.
  • Bring leave-behind materials to reinforce your message, especially for more complex topics. To further assist within your discussion, leave explanatory marketing material to aid the customer in processing what they heard. Make sure to bring this to their attention, focus on those more complex concepts from that material. Maybe make a relatable connection to their daily life as well! 
  • Translation software is not an interpreter!  Programs, like Google Translate, are often not grammatically correct and can derail the actual message, therefore losing the value of the message. Constantly, we see clients and vendors trying to shortcut the language piece by using translation software with no basis of language and grammatical comprehension or context.  While the software may be used as a tool, it does not fully translate standard grammar and insurance lexicon – a subject-based sublanguage.  Many times, when insurance concepts, instructions, and processes are “auto-translated,” a combination of words result, but they likely lack any meaning or correct representation of their English counterparts. This only causes further confusion and lost interest in the subject matter – and worse no action from the employee on their benefits.

As you work with your clients and create resonating messages during Open Enrollment Periods, keep these essential tips in mind. Making sure we can offer all that we can to create the best experience in open enrollment is what can differentiate between an industry leader and an average broker partner.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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