Multilingual employee surveys: the intersection of market research and training requires unique translation expertise

When planning employee training programs and assessing existing ones, surveying your people provides invaluable feedback. What worked, what didn’t, and what people want to learn (or don’t care about). But creating, delivering, and evaluating surveys are specialized skills. Add in multiple languages and it can get complex pretty fast.

Survey Monkey or outsource?

On the surface, creating an employee survey might seem a basic task. Open a Survey Monkey account or create a survey in Google Forms and you’re golden, right? In the case of a simple query like a Net Promoter Score that consists of one simple ranking question and one open comment field, these options are simple. But when you’re digging deeper to understand how to improve your training or develop new training subjects, you have to create more sophisticated queries with appropriate response fields.

Two of our specializations are translating market research surveys and translating learning courseware. Employee surveys are one place where these two very different disciplines converge. Whether you choose to develop your survey internally or outsource to a market research firm, it helps to understand some of the complexities involved in translating content that is quite different than your normal training practices.

Proprietary Content Creation Platforms

One of things market research and eLearning designers share are unique proprietary platforms for creating and delivering properly formatted content. The common characteristics of these platforms are that they are customized for very specific content creation requirements. In the case of learning courseware, they support a number of unique functions like embedding video and audio, delivering training that adapts to a the learners’ strengths and weaknesses and more. Market research tools, in this case survey tools, support a wide range of question and answer types like sliding scales, radio vs. checkbox formats, and open-ended content fields, to name a few. The software also includes tools to analyze results. So both types of platforms, though very different, are sophisticated tools.

Translators should understand these tools and requirements

Because of these specialized content creation and publishing tools and methodologies, it is preferable that those in the translation workflow should be well-versed in their purpose and functionality. This includes everyone from the account contact to the the project managers, and the linguists who actually do the translation.

This is critical because of time-constraints (you shouldn’t need to be training a language vendor on the tools you use!), cost factors, and quality. Which brings us back to those employee surveys.

The importance of subject matter expertise

Having linguists and project managers who are subject matter experts in both disciplines (survey translation and training translation), within one language service provider, ensures that you don’t get great training translation but mediocre employee survey translation. And having this integration at the LSP also means they will return your translations properly formatted for delivery by those proprietary platforms.

Crossover strengths and weaknesses

Like any other skill set in life, there are a limited number of expertise areas one person can maintain. A tech writer doing complex documentation is unlikely to understand the methodologies of survey or course design. As a translation and localization agency, we’ve chosen to build specialist teams both within the company and amongst the translation professionals we work with. This approach means the agency can serve as the multi-skilled entity while our project teams hone their expertise in their chosen subject matter areas. It takes a lot of experience to make this work and we have that experience, though, like many things, it was hard won! And maintaining that expertise means developing a constant learning environment and people who thrive in that environment. Professionals, in other words.

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