4 Tips for Effective Multilingual Compliance Training

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By Salvador Ordorica. CEO of The Spanish Group LLCa first-class international translation service that translates more than 90 languages.

Even as the day-to-day workflow of companies changes to meet technological evolutions, the backbone of a successful company remains an adequately trained and engaged workforce. At the same time, we see our employees becoming more diverse, often in completely different countries. While these diverse individuals provide many intangible and tangible benefits that businesses have come to cherish, they also present a new set of compliance challenges.

Today’s businesses struggle to keep up with constantly changing laws and emerging social issues in their education; with additional layers of complexity due to language barriers, many companies are hesitant to hire the best employees for the job, fearing they will not be able to provide adequate training and comply with compliance regulations.

Practical multilingual compliance training helps put employees from different backgrounds on an equal footing in both the hiring and onboarding process.

When you have effective multilingual training solutions for workplace health and safety, OSHA, HIPAA, etc., you can more comfortably attract more skilled employees from more unique backgrounds. Following are some tips I’ve picked up to help companies diversify their workforce and training systems.

Typically, you should aim to have all relevant training and compliance materials available in the major languages ​​your employees speak. But even this basic rule is not as simple as it seems. The following steps can give you a basic overview for creating a more effective multilingual training strategy.

1. Correctly identify the languages ​​spoken.

Of course, the very first thing you should do is find out which languages ​​your material needs to be translated into. You want to ensure that your material is translated into the official languages ​​of the countries concerned, but you also want to take the time to ensure that you have training and essential lessons in the languages ​​your employees speak and are most comfortable with at home to feel .

Don’t make assumptions based on region or ethnic background. In many cases, your employees speak a certain dialect that differs from the one you expect. Let’s say you have multiple native Thai employees. In that case, there is a chance that they only speak one of the regional Thai dialects, such as Isan, and have difficulty understanding your material even though you have translated it into a more standard form of Thai.

The closer you get to the languages ​​your employees feel most comfortable speaking, the more you can encourage interaction while learning, and the more your employees can quickly understand and remember.

2. Provide a system for providing and monitoring training.

Find out if you can have instructors to facilitate your training in different languages ​​or if you should opt for some form of interpreting service to assist you. How the training looks can strongly dictate what should be translated and how it should be translated. Simply put, make sure you have a plan before committing to crafting your materials. It is not uncommon for companies to translate materials in three different media before choosing a definitive approach.

3. Translate materials with the audience in mind.

A word-for-word translation of something often fails to properly convey the intended meaning and nuances. The term “transcreation” refers to the process translators often have to go through to recreate the meaning of statements. We will often use metaphors or cultural expressions that simply don’t make sense or convey the same meaning in another language or culture. Transcreation takes the intended meaning and retransmits it into the new language with appropriate cultural and linguistic considerations. Often translators will have to create a whole new sentence to convey the intended meaning. This is a complex set of skills that must be fully utilized when it comes to training materials.

You need to understand your employees’ education, culture and linguistic backgrounds and have your translator create messages that speak directly to them. Aim for clarity and simplicity, but locate the materials as close as possible to the real-world experiences of your staff.

You may also want to take the time to go through your parent documents and do your best to remove western cultural expressions or idioms and make sure all expressions are culturally sensitive. This can help speed up the process for future translations and reduce the need to rely on the capabilities of different translators (because it’s a simpler and standardized process).

4. Edit, review, test and track.

While most companies think about editing and reviewing training materials, they rarely think of putting it to the test before making it final. This ties in with the first tip of having a good plan. A good strategy is one that you have tested and know to work. Pay close attention to any software you use to support your training efforts and how people in other cultures can adapt to it.

It’s a challenge, but you should also have a system in place to keep abreast of relevant laws and ensure you keep materials such as personnel guides and standard operating procedures constantly up-to-date in all necessary languages. Companies can often reduce fines for things like FCPA violations by demonstrating that they have provided the right training in the right languages.

Finally, keep track of your effectiveness. Today we have a million data points at our fingertips. Find out how to measure the quality of your training through these initiatives and over time. This can be especially useful if you are testing different approaches.

If you follow these tips, you’ll likely find it easier to hire, train, and work with employees from a wide variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

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