A few years ago, remote communication meant an exchange between two people who worked for the same company but in two different offices. Today, the term also applies to exchanges between remote workers, including those who once worked in the same office. If this is the case in your organization, it’s important to adapt your operations to this new way of working.
A study from Owl Labs shows that the number of global workers doing their work from home, at least part of the time, has risen 140% since 2005. Of course, the pandemic drove a lot of this shift to remote workplaces, but many of these workers want to continue working remotely (even if their employers prefer they come back to the office).
The pandemic forced companies to integrate remote work into their business operations, but it also presented a challenge, particularly for human resources teams in international companies: how to maintain a company culture when employees aren’t working side by side.
There are a large number of digital tools and platforms that make remote work and training more seamless. However, they only work if they’re accessible to all employees, no matter what language they speak, and if they’re adapted to employees’ local customs.
Why Should You Localize Employee Communications?
Localizing your content means adapting it to the language and culture of the target audience. International companies often focus on translating and adapting communications for their clients, such as websites, product catalogs, marketing materials, and videos. However, it’s just as important to localize content for internal audiences, e.g. employees.
Good communication makes it possible to improve project management, promote your company’s culture, and circulate information that helps your teams operate more effectively. One of the first steps to good communication is communicating in the language(s) your employees prefer.
It’s tempting to assume that you can write all your employee communications in English. This may be fine for short chats that arise during the day, but it may make it more difficult for some employees to fully comprehend essential corporate communications and policies, including labor laws, safety rules, training modules or best practices.
Not all your employees are fluent in English, so delivering all your communications in the language could lead to misunderstandings or more serious consequences. By adapting your content to local languages and standards, you ensure all your teams have equal access to important information. This will strengthen overall employee engagement and compliance.
What Types of HR Content Should You Localize?
As an international company, the answer is simple: localize everything. For example:
Your Company Intranet: Your employee portal is an ideal tool for fostering collaboration and communication. If it’s localized to the countries where your employees live and work, it will be all the more effective, because your employees will have an easier time working in it, even if they speak different languages.
Your Company Newsletter: A weekly or monthly newsletter is a great way to keep employees up to date on your company’s activities. Localizing your newsletter – either by adapting to the languages your employees speak or including articles specific to their local offices – will let them know what’s happening in the company and will make them feel more engaged.
Training Materials: Whether you’re onboarding a new employee or training your entire workforce on a new technology, it’s important to translate training materials so everyone follows company guidelines. This includes videos as well. Subtitling is a simple, fast, and inexpensive way to localize your videos and share expertise and know-how with your teams around the world.
Other materials that would benefit from localization include:
- Employment contracts
- International transfer documents
- Welcome booklets for new employees
- How-to guides for company tools and technologies
Whatever content you create for your employees, it will be easier to review and recall when localized to their regions.
Communication between employers and employees can have a huge impact on company morale, culture, and productivity. By localizing your content to reflect the cultural specificities of your global workforce, you increase employee loyalty and the performance of your business.