February 13, 2024
Evelyn Cools
Evelyn Cools

Overcoming Language Barriers in New Hire Benefits Onboarding

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Understanding benefits is crucial for new employees, but it can become a hurdle if English isn't their first language. Based on insights from a recent webinar “Best Practices for New Hire Benefits Onboarding”, here's how to effectively address this challenge.

Watch the on-demand webinar: Best Practices for New Hire Benefits Onboarding

Language Barriers in the U.S. Workplace

"A huge percent of our U.S. workforce speaks English as a second language. Deciphering the complexities of benefits packages can be daunting for them," says Kate Bernier, COO of Airbo. 

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows a steep increase in the population speaking languages other than English at home, surging from 23.1 million in 1980 to 67.8 million in 2019. Of these, Spanish is the most frequent non-English language in American households as of 2019, representing 62% of this group – a figure 12 times greater than the next four most common languages combined (U.S. Census Bureau).

Given these trends, benefits education is becoming a complex issue. The challenge isn’t just about overcoming language barriers; it's about creating an environment where every employee, regardless of their native language, feels valued and understood.


Bernier suggests straightforward approaches to bridge this gap, emphasizing the need for accessible resources. "Providing information in multiple languages, whether through printed materials or digital content, can make a big difference." To implement this, consider these options:

  • Translated Materials: Provide benefits guides, flyers, and forms in the primary languages of your workforce.
  • Digital Tools: Utilize translation software to offer digital access to benefits information in multiple languages.
  • Visual Aids: Create infographics and videos that convey benefits information visually, which can be easier to understand across different languages.

These steps not only aid in comprehension but also demonstrate a company's commitment to inclusivity and support for its diverse workforce.

💡Tip: All Airbo campaigns, including our free new hire benefits onboarding campaign, come with an auto-translation feature that supports 42 languages, making it easy to provide benefits information to new hires in their preferred language.

Inclusive Benefits Onboarding = Higher Employee Retention

Understanding the full scope of their benefits is essential for employees. As Bernier highlights, "It's crucial for employees to know their benefits package is competitive and comprehensive." This comprehensive understanding fosters a deeper appreciation for their workplace, influencing decisions to stay with a company long-term. It shows the company's investment in their well-being and career satisfaction.

Where To Start

Identifying the languages spoken within your workforce is the first critical step. Knowing this allows for targeted solutions that address specific needs, making the onboarding process more inclusive, and ultimately leading to a more engaged and satisfied workforce. Here are some practical steps you can take:

  • Ask managers: What languages do their employees speak? 
  • Learn during the onboarding process: When you bring on a new employee, ask their preferred language. 
  • Attend in-person meetings, like daily standups, and watch if there is one or a couple of employees who are translating the conversation to their peers.

Onboard New Hires in 42 Languages for Free

Our free broker program allows brokers to provide Airbo to their clients or prospects for New Hire Benefits Onboarding at no cost, which includes the auto-translation feature. To learn more about the program and sign up your group(s), click here.

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