It may be easy for some executives to dismiss the importance of localized learning content in the name of big savings. But through this shortsighted view, they forget that an enormous burden of the company’s overall success falls on employees’ shoulders around the world. A small misunderstanding can end up having much bigger consequences, especially if it leads to visible damage to the company’s brand.
Investing in solid international employee training now could mean a much, much stronger foundation for all of your operations and consumer relations for years to come. Your professionalism behind the scenes will translate to more effective and profitable engagements over the counter or in whatever scenario your employees provide your services.
Meet and Support International Employees Where They Are in Their Lives
One of your first mistakes might be to see your international employees as nameless units in your roster. You might take for granted that your workers all speak English, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be significantly more engaged in their own language.
Even an international C-suite employee who has a very good working knowledge of English might pick up those already-complicated salary and benefits documents and feel in over their heads. Now, they’re very unlikely to express to you the language barrier they’re experiencing because they don’t want to end up looking smaller or less valuable in the company. And you’ve demonstrated a lack of understanding of what your international employees really need in order to feel engaged and supported. Especially when you’re dealing with issues that are very close to people’s lives, they need to achieve a deep understanding, and so they tend to want to engage with those issues in their native language.
By cutting corners and failing to localize critical HR documents and elearning, you’re not getting anywhere close to the maximum level of communication with your vital workforce.
If you’re not even able to bridge these initial connections with your own international employees, how are you going to truly understand your international target markets enough to offer what they really want? From this footing, your international training materials are likely to fall short, and your local employees may not be ready to deliver the kind of service necessary to build a productive relationship with the market.
Ensure That Your LMS Is Even Capable of Localization
Before you move forward with elearning localization, stop and take a close look at your LMS. It needs to be global-ready from the start. If it is a flat LMS that allows you to create courses and modules but doesn’t give you the ability to pivot for multilingual versions of each, you’ll be stuck recreating and recreating, wasting time and resources.
The service provider may assure you that localization is possible, but it isn’t enough just to be able to export. Will it be a workable file format for a localizer? Is it round-trip enabled? Will it repopulate the way it needs to in your LMS following translations? A mature-enough system will have APIs, allowing you to have direct routing from the LMS to a localization system.
What are the ramifications for setting up users in the first place? Can a user indicate their preferred language in their profile for an ideal learning experience every time, or will they need to change the settings with each log in?
If you don’t know what you’re doing—if you can’t look at your LMS and understand exactly how it is bound to work—you probably need a knowledgeable partner to help you.
Maintain Centralized Control of International Employee Training with Local Partners
You may also be tempted to eschew responsibility for the costs and hassle of localizing trainings and other materials for international employees. Why not have regional management or franchises carry the burdens of cost and translation headaches? Well, if you let go of control in that way, you’re likely also letting go of all consistency with protocols and operations.
There are training materials for a reason, but when you give local leaders ownership of those materials, you may have trouble continuing to assert your authority and those policies that make your company successful. If you’re set on decentralizing your localized training, you better have a way to establish guideposts. Set terminology and style standards, and have a system for auditing elearning adaptations. This necessary level of oversight is bound to be expensive in and of itself.
The best thing to do would be to keep your elearning localization centralized but to include your local partners in a proactive way. You would bring your local market partners in early, even during the design phase, and then be sure to gather their input as you’re developing critical terminology and style guides. You would also want to gather their feedback along the way.
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Be Open to Learning from International Employees and Adapting
Unless you’re really engaged with your international partners and employees during this customized training process, you’re missing out on major opportunities to get to know your target markets better. The way that employees in a certain region of the world learn and engage with your product or service is, actually, a really telling example of how local consumers are likely to relate as well. While it’s important to promote consistency, it is also important to uncover situations in which your accepted standards may not be appropriate for local consumers in the least. When you can gather information about how people engage with your company and your product on the ground, you can hand that info off to your operations team and even your product team. Team learning is not a one-way street.
But let’s be honest, even that best practice of being aware and engaged and drawing knowledge from international teams is hard to implement. You need sophisticated systems for international employee training across the board. You need efficient training adaptations; sensitive treatment of cultural contextualization; and centralized control and preservation of your brand, product, and image around the world. You need to make the most of that two-way street that is employee engagement.
Bureau Works can help you skip past the wasted efforts and begin establishing the most effective and scalable solutions for your international employee training. Centralization is the name of the game, but it’s still possible to customize your workflows and leverage the knowledge and experience of all relevant stakeholders. Contact our team to get started. We’ll map out your ecosystem and make plans to develop a robust localization infrastructure.