Communications in a multi-cultural workplace

By Susan Singh
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/04/2003

Pension plans can be hard enough to understand when English or French are one’s mother tongue — for employees fluent in neither official language, multi-lingual services can help.

Plan sponsors have a statutory and fiduciary responsibility to provide information to plan members. Now that risk management in many plans rests with the individual employee, the plan sponsor has a responsibility to educate employees in a manner that is appropriate to the audience. In a multi-cultural workplace the customary meetings, brochures, and Internet sites may not go far enough to ensure that employees get information in useable form.

Sun Life Financial recently introduced live multi-lingual interpretation for members of its group retirement or savings plans. The call centre is able to set up a three-way connection between the caller, an interpreter and the customer service rep. The caller asks questions in the language of her choice.