Diversity and Inclusion

Addressing Work Culture Challenges with Language Training

Recruiting a diverse, global workforce is an achievement well worth the effort. Increasingly remote work models allow companies to recruit and retain talent from anywhere. This recruiting flexibility can be a boon to enterprises facing economic difficulties, employee retention concerns, or looking to break into new markets or regions.

Having a global workforce presents challenges but, as many companies are learning, diverse teams can also be leveraged in creative ways to solve work culture concerns. A diverse workforce can challenge a company to lean into a more inclusive model and focus on a wider array of professional and personal opportunities and training for its global employees. 

Many studies have pointed towards communication challenges, a lack of opportunity, and a failure to invest in training and development as some of the primary reasons companies fail to retain global talent. Data from a recent Oxford Economics study suggests the problem may be more widespread than throwing more money at diversity and inclusion workshops or establishing a mentoring program. 

Employees in the Oxford Economics study believed global workforces need to pay closer attention to creating a culture of learning within their organization. Half of the executives in the study indicated their companies did not have the capability to update and share institutional knowledge. Among employees in these same companies, only 47% said their workplace encouraged and supported continuous learning. Additionally, only 41% felt their company offered adequate opportunities to grow employee skillsets.

So how do you set your company up to address the challenges of a global workforce while still embracing diversity? The solution, unsurprisingly, lies in breaking down language barriers, empowering your employees, and cultivating cultural intelligence.

Overcome language barriers by encouraging linguistic diversity

Language barriers are one of the most common challenges of training a global workforce. However, instead of looking at linguistic diversity as an obstacle, companies that embrace it as a benefit find it brings a lot of opportunity to the table. Instead of seeking to homogenize into a universal corporate language, companies should embrace linguistic diversity.

Offering language training can help your global employees grow their skillsets in meaningful ways. But it also offers the company the advantage of having a bilingual workforce that can help navigate different global markets and create strong customer or client relationships. Crafting a corporate language policy that encourages global teams to maintain communication in the local language while simultaneously supporting language learning initiatives lets international enterprises have the best of both worlds.

Focus on communication skills to empower your remote workforce

Certainly, technology skills are vital to helping a remote, global workforce operate successfully, but communication skills are equally important. As organizations increasingly engage and collaborate at a distance, effective communication becomes critical. In virtual meetings many of the cues gleaned from body language are absent, so employees are forced to rely more heavily on auditory cues that can get lost in translation.

Investing in language training sends a clear message that your company not only values linguistic diversity but that it is a priority for every employee to have the tools they need to participate and be heard. Learning other languages also has the power to unlock better communication skills generally as language learners spot cultural bias and inconsistencies that might cause confusion in their native languages.

Your diverse, global workforce has a lot to teach you

Just as you’ll need to create a culture of learning to help a global workforce embrace diversity, your executive leadership and management should also see this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Developing empathy and focusing on active listening can help management inspire a culture of learning that permeates every interaction.

For example, HR may discover they need to learn new skill sets to engage with a workforce from a diverse background, including developing culturally aware conflict resolution and communication tools. The chance to embrace that challenge offers HR employees an opportunity to grow professionally and personally alongside the workforce they’re managing.

The solution to work cultural challenges lies in cultivating an environment that encourages and supports learning. And there is no greater opportunity to learn from one another than by embracing and celebrating our differences as a strength. Language training can be a critical component of that effort, especially when it comes to a global workforce where embracing linguistic diversity can create a more dynamic and inclusive workplace for everyone.

Ready to start embracing linguistic diversity? Find out more about language training for your global workforce today.

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Kaz Weida
Kaz Weida is a freelance journalist and photographer who is passionate about crafting content that helps entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes tackle challenges. When not at her keyboard, Kaz can be found in the kitchen indulging in a little craft cocktail inspiration.