How HR can benefit from a Translation Agency

And where to start…

OK, so here is the story. A few years ago, a friend of mine recommended our translation company to a Client – quite a large company with offices all over Europe and the headquarters in the UK. The company employs a substantial number of foreign workers, many of whom are Eastern Europeans. Apart from helping with the day-to-day business operations by translating things such as memos, company policies, etc., we have helped the Client with numerous issues they have had over the years which were a result of the language barrier between the employer and their foreign staff.

First things first

There are well over 7 million foreign-born residents in the UK, corresponding to approximately 12% of the total population. Of these, nearly 5 million (8%) were born outside the EU and 2.5 million (4%) were born in another EU member state.

Many of these people are migrant workers, particularly those arriving from old and new EU countries. The Polish population alone has increased more than ten times since 2001. That’s over 1000% increase in just over 10 years! And the numbers keep growing… (see infographics)

At the time of the most recent UK census, conducted in April 2001, 8.3 per cent of the country’s population was foreign-born. This was substantially less than that of major immigration countries such as Australia (23 per cent), Canada (19.3 per cent) and the USA (12.3 per cent).

What does it mean to me?

For any business operating in the UK, or in any other country for that matter, it means that they can expect their workforce to be more and more international and diverse. This also means that the issues they will face in the future are going to be more and more frequent and they are more likely to be a result of the language barrier between the employer and their staff.

The problems are many and can be very different – ranging from not understanding the instructions in the workplace to violation of the company policies, including the Health and Safety or Fire Safety policies, to disciplinary proceedings and criminal cases.

A competent Translation Agency can act as an important intermediary or a link between the two parties ensuring both support for the Employees and fulfilling legal obligations for the Employer.

So where do I start?

What should a Company know and do to start a successful cooperation with a Translation Agency? Below are some of the most important things to bear in mind.

  • Do some research first. Like with anything else, it is common sense to shop around first before deciding on your supplier.
  • Choose your Partner wisely. Look at the different suppliers’ websites, check their location and time zone, compare the services they offer, etc.
  • Don’t go after the cheapest translation agency to avoid potential quality or deadline issues or the most expensive one either as the price does not necessarily guarantee high quality. Instead, think about the benefits they can offer to your business.
  • Contact your chosen supplier and ask questions. You may want to ask about the linguists they hire and their qualifications, language pairs they offer, deadlines, communication channels, etc.
  • Discuss terms. Ask whether the supplier operates a satisfaction guarantee policy and what happens if you are not happy with the translation or any other aspect of their work.
  • Negotiate the cost. Now is the time to talk about the money. Very few translation companies feature a price list on their website. Instead, they require you to contact them and request a quote. In either case, you should not hesitate to bargain with the suppliers to get a better offer from them or at least ask for large volume discounts – usually for translations of 10,000 words or more.
  • Agree on the process. Discuss the process that your supplier is going to apply, including file exchange, communication channels, payment methods, etc.
  • Be flexible! Remember it is much more important to receive a good translation than to get it quickly. Even with the best players in the field, there will always be delays, issues and queries. That’s why it is vital that you stay flexible and facilitate the whole process rather than make it more difficult for the supplier to provide you with high quality translation work.
  • Enjoy! This is an exciting time for your company. You are finally in position to communicate freely and effectively with your staff as well as the wider world so try to stay positive!


So what’s happening with our Client today? They have just managed to successfully close a very delicate disciplinary case involving a Polish employee. Thanks to the co-operation between the Client and the Translation Agency, the communication between the two parties involved was very smooth and enabled the Company to close the case and the Employee to keep his job!

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