America has always been a cultural melting pot. Today, in many parts of the country, it is just as common to hear Spanish being spoken as it is English. This is far from a new trend! During the great immigration waves of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people spoke the language with which they were most familiar, including German, Polish, Italian, and Slovak. As these individuals entered the workforce, they learned to speak English. But, as we all know, English is a challenging language to express oneself in, especially as a non-native speaker. Oh, and don’t forget the difficulties found in trying to read and write in English!

With the current state of the labor market, it is not uncommon for aging services providers to hire workers for whom English is their second language. These employees bring an incredible set of skills and life experiences to the table that can help communities grow and adapt to the changing marketplace. But, employers also need to be open to feedback from their team and recognize that the English language might not be the best way to get those insights.

Translating a survey isn’t as simple as going to Google Translate, copying and pasting your statements, and clicking a button. A professional survey partner will have a service on retainer that can perform accurate translations in a variety of languages and dialects. We all know how varied the English language can be, so imagine just how many dialects there are in the rest of the world! Accounting for these differences can have a major impact on how your survey is perceived by your respondents.

In addition to translating the survey tool itself, surveyors should also be prepared to translate any feedback that might be included in an open-ended comment field. Again, this provides the best way for employees to share their insights while not being bogged down in trying to express themselves in an unnatural way.

You are probably wondering what translating a survey costs? There’s usually a base cost of translating the survey tools (around a couple of hundred dollars at most.) Then, there is the variable cost of translating any comments that come back. Reputable translation services will provide a cost per hour of translation, which can range from $75 an hour to well over $100, depending on how well known the language is. While this does add some uncertainty to the cost of the survey, it’s a necessary expense to get the best results.

At Holleran, we’ve surveyed nearly more than 200,000 senior living residents and employees in the last two years. In that time we’ve translated our surveys into many languages; several dialects of Spanish, of course, are the most common. But, we’ve also administered our surveys in French Creole, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Russian, Mandarin, and more! Allowing a person to respond in the language they are most comfortable with provides the most accurate feedback; and isn’t that what we are after?