“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

Henry Ford

Why eLearning Localisation?

It’s no secret that, in today’s increasingly globalised world, companies must have a global reach to get ahead. The fact that this philosophy applies as much to a company’s employees as it does to its clients, however, is often overlooked. eLearning localisation is one way that companies can reach out a hand and connect with internal and external stakeholders wherever they are in the world. Advances in communication and mobility mean that the average workforce has never been more linguistically, culturally, and geographically diverse. For these organisations, delivering clear and consistent training material that can be understood by all staff presents a unique challenge. This is especially important when providing adequate training opportunities for staff — an often critical part of retaining key talent which can be done through eLearning Localisation.

Per the National Research Business Institute,“opportunity plays a major role in becoming or remaining an [e]employer of [c]choice.”1  eLearning — the practice of delivering digital educational content allows companies to provide valuable training to employees across the globe. eLearning localisation considers the linguistic and cultural contexts of the employees. It goes beyond simple translation of the eLearning material by ensuring that the programme retains “the exact meaning as the source course, with the correct emotion, in a specific cultural context.”2 In a world where communication is king, it is vital to ensure that employees are trained in their preferred language. eLearning Localisation strengthens the likelihood that employees (and your organisation as a whole) will get the most out of your investment.

Benefits of eLearning Localisation

English has been identified as the primary online language accounting for over 60 percent of all web-based content (including eLearning material). Despite this however, of the estimated 4.6 billion global internet users, a staggering 75 percent use a mother tongue other than English. In fact, although traditionally, most eLearning courses have been developed exclusively in the English language, a growing number of internet users are now seeking internet content in their preferred language. 

Data Sources: Internet World Stats and w3techs

This poses a significant problem. Although most research on learning in a secondary language focuses on juniors rather than adults, studies agree on one key aspect — students are able to process information faster and retain it more effectively when it is taught in their native tongue. What’s more, there is ample evidence that teaching in a language other than the learner’s mother tongue can be detrimental to the learning process. Important instructions and concepts, when passed through the filter of a second language, risk losing some of their nuance and clarity. There’s a reason that this practice has been compared to holding learners underwater without first teaching them how to swim.  

It may be that the greatest advantage of eLearning localisation is simply levelling the playing field for non-native English speakers in the workplace. That said, there are also very real and measurable benefits of eLearning localisation for both employee and employer. The following highlights some of the most impactful.

eLearning Localisation Shapes Corporate Culture

The benefits of a multicultural workforce in terms of innovation, productivity, and employee satisfaction are well-documented. In fact, failing to account for cultural preferences can create tension and division in the workplace. Speakers of English as a secondary language might feel disadvantaged and marginalised compared to native English-speaking co-workers if training is only available in English. Fortunately, there is no better way to foster an inclusive corporate culture than by speaking your employees’ language, figuratively and literally.

eLearning localisation demonstrates to employees that you value them enough to speak to them directly, making their learning experiences more relatable and personalised. And employees who feel valued will be more motivated, increasing the likelihood that they’ll stick around for the long run. By removing cultural and linguistic differences from your eLearning content, you also help to focus and shape the culture of your organisation. The company that pulls together, pulls harder and farther. eLearning localisation is a great way to ensure that you’re all pulling in the same direction.

eLearning Localisation Increases Job Performance

It is a universally accepted principle that employees who receive quality training at work perform better in their roles. And, if the quality of the training includes localisation, a great many additional benefits can also be gained. 

A programme conducted by the National Immigration Forum found a correlation between language skills and productivity. Employees who participated in the programme demonstrated higher quality work and were able to complete tasks faster when they were more familiar with the language they were using. Additional benefits to employee morale, job satisfaction, and general confidence on the job were also recorded. This programme lends further evidence that eLearning localisation helps to strengthen the likelihood that your employees will perform and engage at their optimal level.

eLearning Localisation Improves Employee Safety

An incident at a Tyson Foods processing facility back in 2011 resulted in over 150 employees being admitted to hospital, with five needing intensive care. The reason? A worker mistakenly mixed a batch of lethal chlorine gas after being unable to read the English label on a drum of industrial bleach. CDC investigators found that labels and signage offered exclusively in English, combined with widespread English illiteracy among employees, were key factors that contributed to the accident. This rather extreme example shows the very real consequences of failing to provide training in your employees’ preferred languages.

Localising your eLearning content from the get-go allows you to get ahead of any potential misunderstandings that could result in injury to staff. What’s more, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines state that, “[i]f there is a language barrier, the language known to the trainees should be used to reinforce the training messages and information.”3 eLearning localisation ensures that key safety information is relayed to employees whilst retaining the nuance and clarity of their mother tongue. This not only saves time and money but could — quite literally — save lives.

eLearning Localisation Strengthens Employee Engagement

Employees who are not engaged with their work are estimated to cost US companies up to $370 billion annually in lost productivity. What’s more, unengaged employees undermine the achievements of colleagues and fail to create an environment that retains customer satisfaction and retention. Even a single disengaged employee could have dire consequences for your business. But when a colossal 69 percent of the American workforce is not engaged, it becomes clear that proactive management is needed.

eLearning is a proven method of driving employee engagement. Offering ample development opportunities allows your people to identify their career trajectory so they can be laser-focused on their goals — and localising this material means that you are affording your employees every opportunity to succeed.

Partner with a Specialised eLearning Localisation Team

There’s never been a better time to consider how eLearning localisation can benefit your organisation. Keeping employees engaged, however, and maintaining a corporate culture that enables them is not a one-time action but requires a sustained cultural effort. Localising your eLearning content now is one small first step that can have countless benefits for your organisation over the longer term.

As an industry leader with over a decade spent partnering with eLearning clients, Global Lingo is simply the best choice for your eLearning localisation needs. With offices all over the world, we are here for you 24/7 with a team of professional linguists that can localise your eLearning courses in over 150 languages. Whether it’s a simple PowerPoint deck or a full-scale eLearning module with all the trimmings, Global Lingo has you covered.

Reach out to Global Lingo today to find out more.

REFERENCES

1 “Employer of Choice: Opportunity – Employee Surveys.” NBRI, 1 Nov. 2017, www.nbrii.com/employee-survey-white-papers/employer-of-choice-opportunity/

2Dhanoya, Kuntan. ‘An Introduction to eLearning Localization.’ Training Industry, 23 October 2020, https://trainingindustry.com/articles/e-learning/an-introduction-to-elearning-localisation/

3“Training Requirements in OSHA Standards.” OSHA. Date Accessed: 27 January 2021. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha2254.pdf

In addition to:

Christou, Natasha. “The Only Thing Worse than Training Your Employees and Having Them Leave, Is Not Training Them, and Having Them Stay.” FE News, www.fenews.co.uk/press-releases/45130-the-only-thing-worse-than-training-your-employees-and-having-them-leave-is-not-training-them-and-having-them-sta

“Top Ten Internet Languages in The World – Internet Statistics.” Internet World Stats, www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm

“Usage Statistics of Content Languages for Websites.” W3Techs, w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_language

Benson, Carole. “The Importance of mother tongue based schooling for educational quality.” Unesdoc.unesco.org, 2004, unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000146632

Janine Schindler, MCC. “Council Post: The Benefits Of Cultural Diversity In The Workplace.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Sept. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/09/13/the-benefits-of-cultural-diversity-in-the-workplace/?sh=97862d871c0d

“Upskilling New Americans: Innovative English Training for Career Advancement.” National Immigration Forum, 13 Nov. 2019, immigrationforum.org/article/upskilling-new-americans-innovative-english-training-for-career-advancement/

Hensley, Scott. “How Miscommunication And A Simple Mistake Led To A Toxic Accident.” NPR, NPR, 7 Dec. 2012, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/12/06/166658038/how-miscommunication-and-a-simple-mistake-led-to-a-toxic-accident

Harter, Jim. “Historic Drop in Employee Engagement Follows Record Rise.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 19 Nov. 2020, www.gallup.com/workplace/313313/historic-drop-employee-engagement-follows-record-rise.aspx

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