Handling multilingual compliance training is a delicate process. Here are tips for how to communicate essential information to all employees.
Here's what you need to know:
- It’s vital to prevent information from getting lost in translation when it comes to compliance
- To get your organization on the right track, assess the language skills of your employees and have native speakers on staff when possible
- Ensure training is culturally appropriate and embrace diversity in the workforce
- Contract with professional interpreters if you don’t have in-house speakers and use visualizations in training
- Choose digital platforms that support all native languages within the organization
- Humans can often translate documents better than AI tools
Increased diversity in the workforce is essential. It also brings with it a separate set of needs and concerns. Namely, handling multilingual training of any kind, including compliance training, is a very delicate process.
Several things could get lost in translation if you aren’t careful. Some will say that you can’t call your company a global company unless you can train workers in their native language(s).
When it comes to compliance, that’s especially true. Not even a language barrier can come between workers and their comprehension of the compliance guidelines and rules of the organization.
It’s been difficult because the business world expanded to a global reach a lot faster than many anticipated. It was thrust further into the global realm as COVID shut everything down and sent employees home to figure out how to work remotely.
The problem of monolingualism, or only knowing 1 language, is that it’s going to affect the productivity and communication of the organization and all of its employees.
Many executives already report that linguistic barriers are the leading cause of conflicts or miscommunication between workers and company leaders. This means essential information isn’t getting communicated, which leads to several potential consequences.
Not only that, but OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) reports that as many as 25% of workplace injuries somehow involve a language barrier.
What’s the answer? Here are 8 tips to help get your organization on the right track.
1. Stop and assess the language skills of employees
Before you can improve your training approach with multilingual employees, you have to know which languages they speak. Start by assessing the language skills and capabilities of all of your employees, including leadership.
See how many languages people know, which 1 is their native language, and what you can do to help them become a larger part of company communication and collaboration efforts.
Once you know where your organization stands, you’ll be able to move forward with creating multilingual training strategies and materials. You’ll also be able to embrace people management from a global perspective.
2. Have native speakers on staff
If you have a multilingual organization, you’re going to need to make sure that you hire multilingual and native speakers for all the languages that need to be represented.
While you can’t legally (or morally) hire someone specifically because of their ethnicity, you can hire people with specific language skills. That’s considered a necessary job skill and it’s completely allowable to be a qualification for employment.
If you have the means and can find the talent, you should try to keep native speakers on staff at all times. That way, whenever there is a need for multilingual compliance training, you have all the resources in-house and don’t have to worry about lessons getting lost in translation.
3. Ensure training is culturally appropriate
It’s important to respect cultural differences when working with multilingual employees and people from different parts of the world. You need to make sure that training and onboarding not only embrace their culture but provide them with the same training experience that someone of a different language would get.
It’s important to get to know people’s cultures, to be open in wanting to learn more and engage with them, and to make people feel welcome.
On the other hand, you don’t want to go overboard in a way that looks like you’re trying too hard. That can rub employees the wrong way, too.
4. Embrace diversity in the workforce
In the same realm as culturally appropriate training is the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion in the workforce. This applies to different cultures and backgrounds. It also applies to different types of professional backgrounds.
You might find a great employee that doesn’t speak your native language. However, they might have a professional background that trumps anything that you’ve found locally. Take the time to understand the various ways that you can improve diversity in your workforce, from languages and cultures to skills and more.
5. Contract with professional interpreters if you don’t have in-house speakers
Perhaps you don’t have the room to staff native speakers for all the regions and countries that your organization covers. It might just be that you haven’t yet tried to look for native speakers to bring on board.
In any case, if you don’t have people in-house that can help with multilingual compliance training, you’ll want to enlist the help of professional interpreters. These experts can help you create effective training and onboarding materials.
If you don’t have people in-house that can help with multilingual compliance training, you’ll want to enlist the help of professional interpreters.
They can also help you create compliance guidelines and documents, and other written materials that are all understandable to any employee, no matter what their native language might be.
Keeping a professional service on hand is important, too. You will likely need their services more than once. So, make sure that you choose a reputable company that you can refer back to from time to time.
6. Choose digital platforms that support all native languages within the organization
With the rise of digital technology, it’s important to make sure that the organization is investing in the best resources to support all employees. This includes tools and platforms that offer native language support.
Fortunately, in light of the now-global workforce and the post-COVID way of the world, many programs are adding more native languages to their software and other resources to ensure that there’s something for everyone. Find those and stick with them.
7. Properly translate all HR, training, safety, and compliance documents
It’s often more effective for people to translate documents instead of AI translation tools. Some AI tools have gotten pretty good over the years. However, there are nuances of language that only a human can properly translate into context between languages.
Make sure that your 1st step is properly translating all compliance documents, including safety training, HR paperwork, and other important resources.
8. Use visualizations in training, not just words
As with training in a single language, multilingual training needs to be dynamic and engage employees. It can’t just be a rote course of the same boring compliance training modules that the company has used for years.
It also can’t be a poorly translated version of the original. That immediately makes your diverse employees feel undervalued.
There are several ways that you can engage in active learning. Those include techniques like role-playing and visual demonstrations, even with a remote workforce. Get creative and find a way to break down language barriers. It’s vital to encourage collaboration and teamwork despite any barriers.
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Better training means a better organization all-around
When workers are properly trained in their native language, there are many benefits to be had. For starters, fewer miscommunications or misinterpretations will occur.
Some things just don’t translate effectively, and the nuances of each language are different. Therefore, incorrect translations could have a huge impact on understanding.
Employees that are properly trained on compliance and daily operations understand what’s expected of them. They know how to effectively manage their workflow.
Plus, when employees feel valued because they are given the training they need in their native language, they’re more likely to perform even better. Therefore, you can count on increased efficiency and more effective operations, too.
And of course, we mentioned how it can improve safety and reduce workplace risks. So, what are you waiting for? Start your new path to multilingual training today.