Multilingual content can significantly improve employee engagement and knowledge retention. Read how to implement a multilingual L&D strategy using technology.
In today’s interconnected world – in which 80% of the global workforce does not speak English as a first language – language diversity has become an integral part of any corporate business. For companies hiring in countries with a diverse workforce like the US, Canada, or the UK, or those simply looking to invest in localization and market expansion campaigns, supporting their globally distributed teams on their learning journey is key to the success.
This blog post will explore the advantages of making your learning and development (L&D) strategy language-accessible, and how it can positively impact your organization’s growth.
The impact of language barriers on the workplace
Employing a multilingual workforce can bring numerous benefits to an organization; it can increase employee productivity, create a more inclusive work environment, and improve cross-cultural communication. Individuals from different language backgrounds can offer a unique point of view when problem-solving, boosting creativity and innovation.
Despite these benefits, 65% of US-based senior executives say that language barriers between managers and employees exist and have a tangible impact, leading to miscommunication and productivity loss (research by Forbes). This happens because most meetings in the workspace are still held in Business English. As a result:
It’s undeniable: a lack of English fluency can distort workplace relations and team performance, as more confident native speakers often dominate the discussion in meetings and projects. This results in some employees being undermined and mis-evaluated.
Multilingual Learning & Development, what are the benefits?
The good news is L&D professionals are in a unique position to help. Through effective training programs, L&D professionals can create a more productive, welcoming, and collaborative environment. They can also turn cultural differences into an advantage in running a global company and marketing internationally.
As our clients at Borusan Cat put it: “Since none of our companies’ mother tongue was English, it is a great pleasure for us to be able to reach our colleagues in their local language. Being able to hear and listen in your own language without any complications in such an easy way has helped us to create a solution for our employees”.
So let’s dive deeper into these advantages.
Multilingual training increases engagement and retention
Multilingual content can significantly improve employee engagement and knowledge retention. Studies have indicated that we are more likely to remember information that is communicated in our native language (source: Gallup).
Additionally, the more comfortable employees feel with the content, the more likely they are to engage with it, leading to better knowledge acquisition and content retention. Research by Rosetta Stone found that adding multilingual e-learning modules to virtual training led to a 46% increase in learner engagement
Employee Satisfaction and Loyalty lead to a competitive advantage
Organizations that provide multilingual training are 1.67 times more likely to be a market leader in their industry (source: CSA Research). Also, companies offering multilingual development opportunities tend to have higher employee satisfaction rates and lower turnover. What’s the link between these two data points?
The answer is simple, and nails down to commitment. Implementing a multilingual L&D strategy sends a positive message to your employees that you value their native language and culture. It demonstrates clearly that leaders care their employees understand the company’s goals, regulations, and expectations regardless of their English proficiency or language background. As a result, team members feel more valued and motivated to improve their skills, as they feel their unique perspective is appreciated, and this brings to a sharp increase in productivity rates.
Multilingual training improves compliance and risk mitigation
Beyond company culture and its link to productivity and growth, there are occasions in which organizations genuinely cannot afford to have concepts getting lost in translation. We are talking here about safety and compliance training, or product training for medical devices and manufacturing. This is an absolute priority if you consider that each year language barriers are responsible of a staggering 25% of work-related incidents (stats by US OSHA).
On the contrary, employees are more likely to recall safety protocols and other crucial information when they can understand it in their native tongue. This is also valid during product training, including those for end users when high risks are involved (think about explaining how to use medical devices in hospitals). By increasing users’ confidence in how to use machines, companies can also increase their chances of product adoption; when end-users are confident that the people selling to them have a solid grasp of processes, they feel there is a lower chance of complications and risks.
How to use technology to deliver a multilingual L&D strategy
Now that we’ve seen in detail why a multilingual L&D strategy can benefit your organization, it’s time to dig into how to implement it and add multilingual content into your training programs.
The first practical step is to adapt training material such as brochures and leaflets, making sure this is available in multiple languages. Additionally, if you are thinking about surveys, they can be distributed in your employees’ language. However, if you are planning on hosting live workshops and Q&A sessions, hiring interpreters to join your workshops on-site may be out of budget.
This is where technology comes in handy. Thanks to innovative multilingual solutions – like KUDO patented software – L&D professionals will be able to leverage:
- AI speech-to-speech translation: with KUDO patented AI speech translator, L&D teams will have the option to plug real-time voice interpretation to their workshops and programs in 30+ different languages (including regional variants). This solution is available 24/7 for both in-person, hybrid or fully remote settings. Also, it does not require additional time for preparation, giving L&D teams full flexibility to reschedule sessions as needed.
- Professional human interpreters remotely connected: if your content requires deeper attention to the context, or you need content translated in a rare language that is not yet supported by machine interpreting, you’ll have the option to hire vetted interpreters that will connect to your meetings through a Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) platform.
- Enhanced closed captions (speech-to-text) for employees to also read in their preferred language, beyond listening.
- Unlimited multilingual recording to repurpose the content offline multiple times.
Ready to take your L&D strategy multilingual?
As we have seen, leveraging multilingual content in your L&D strategy allows all employees to better access and understand their training, regardless of their native language or their level of business English, which leads to an increase in productivity.
While written multilingual content is certainly helpful, it’s in live workshops and Q&A sessions that a multilingual L&D strategy can really make a difference, increasing understanding and information retention. This is particularly valid where complex subject matter is treated, such as safety and compliance training, where miscommunication can have tangible consequences. Technology is here to help, making sure L&D professionals can drive results with a higher ROI.
If you want to find out more, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts.
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