Learning & Development

Empower your L&D content with cultural adaptation

While you may already know that learning & development (L&D) is a crucial aspect of training during onboarding processes and a key tool for employees of all skill levels within any given company. It may not be entirely clear what information should be included to ensure that everybody has access to the most rewarding, relevant learning content available for their professional development. Enter cultural adaptation.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on diversity in the workplace. This can be integrated into L&D materials to make them more engaging and inclusive for individuals from a range of backgrounds. With this in mind, let’s look at how you can empower your L&D content with cultural adaption to meet everybody’s needs.

What is cultural adaptation and how can it be applied to L&D?

Intrinsically, cultural adaptation is somewhat self-explanatory. When being considered in terms of L&D content, it refers to upgrading and enriching the materials provided by Human Resources teams in a way that is sensitive to (and inclusive of) different cultures. The main aim of L&D content is to bring new knowledge and skills to all employees. And where materials may already be tailored to meet different educational needs, the modern workforce is driving change that requires a new approach to the cultural nuances that may come into play.

Why cultural adaptation matters in L&D

Studies suggest that individuals from different backgrounds often have more varied learning preferences and it is now extremely important for businesses to integrate these to increase employee retention and reach a wider talent pool to up productivity and improve functionality. When employees have the ability to grow within their roles in a way that plays to their strengths, improves cognition and engages interest, they will be far more likely to retain the key takeaways and apply their newfound knowledge in real working situations.

How cultural adaptation can be integrated into learning and development

As cultural learning can be addressed by tailoring content to appeal to a range of learning styles, it can be important for businesses to understand not just the nuances of improving materials (such as increasing visual aids or changing the way things are laid out), but also the needs of employees in terms of how information is taught. For example, individuals from some cultures will prefer to interact with tutors on a more personable level that covers wider subject concepts via guided learning, whereas others will prefer a more independent, fact and statistic-based approach that will benefit from testing and graded systems.

A great way to adapt L&D to cultural learners is to introduce interesting imagery, videos, or even GIFs to presentations, incorporating learning activities, encouraging peer discussion and increasing more fact-driven materials such as graphs and analytical data. Many businesses make the mistake of simply translating learning materials without taking the time to ensure that the content is localised to increase comprehension. This could mean introducing cultural references and relevant regional syntax and vernacular – and having the updated content reviewed by local teams or native speakers who will be better equipped to understand any miscommunications, irrelevant or confusing terminology, or even point out the likelihood of the content being effective for the target demographic.

Cultural adaptation in L&D: one of the largest successful case studies in the world

Arguably one of the largest names in the world and catering to the biggest consumer-base – Google has introduced cultural adaptation on some of the most diverse levels, so there are relevant lessons to be learned when businesses want to improve their learning and development processes. Firstly, Google hires experts across a wide range of competencies and from all walks of life from locations around the world, so it is extremely important for teams to collaborate and understand the roles that they are given to function as part of a well-oiled team. As a company, they have prioritised informal and continuous learning to ensure the best possible approach to employee development.

Challenges of cultural adaptation in L&D and how to overcome them

The top three challenges that businesses face when integrating cultural adaption are often time commitment, resources, and budget. As the modern business is having to evolve at a more rapid pace than ever before (due to advancements in tech, online accessibility, and the ever-changing needs of consumers), cultural adaptation is becoming more and more imperative.

This means that the challenges presented need to be dealt with quickly and at a low price point, but the typical solutions of providing off-the-shelf courses or employing third-party training course developers are causing even more strife, as they pose additional cons like the potential of bespoke courses not meeting the necessary cultural requirements. The best solution for businesses facing these issues is to equip their L&D professionals with the necessary skills to effectively adapt to change and create a content creation model that will be simple and quick to actualise. This often entails a more blended approach to scalable L&D strategies, incorporating physical training with eLearning protocols.

Key takeaways

The main benefits to be gleaned from the adaption of inclusive cultural learning protocols are as follows:

  • Higher levels of participation, engagement and retention of information when learning
  • Promote knowledge exchange for greater understanding and increased productivity
  • Improving working environments and increasing employee retention
  • The better access to culture-specific learning materials, the better equipped individuals will be to face challenges in the workplace

As you can see, culturally sensitive learning and development protocols have a wide range of benefits and uses in the increasingly globalised business landscape and it can be worthwhile for a whole host of companies in a variety of sectors to integrate, adapt and move into the modern working environment with cultural adaptation for L&D.

Now is the right time to review your current L&D materials and consider implementing cultural adaptation, so why not consult with industry experts or reach out to a professional service specialising in cultural adaptation for assistance today?

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