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Overcoming multilingual internal communications challenges

Without proper communications pathways, it can sometimes feel like your colleagues are speaking another language. But what happens when they actually are? Communicating with a multilingual workforce has always presented challenges, but with the new world of work becoming decidedly digital, what emerging opportunities are there to bring a multinational workforce together?

Communicating to a multilingual workforce with an intranet

Multilingual internal comms in the new world of work

Global expansion holds the potential for higher revenues, but it also comes with its own set of risks. From understanding cultural differences to navigating varying regulations, there are several types of challenges international leaders must overcome.

While every organization will face its own obstacles, poor internal communications is what poses the biggest threat to global enterprises. Two-thirds of businesses are having difficulty aligning with and being sensitive to local culture and communications styles, especially when their company spans multiple geographies.

Effective digital communication is paramount in the work from anywhere era. Your employees can no longer turn to their desk mates for clarification on an email they don’t understand or wait for the annual conference to get to know their overseas colleagues. Instead, their ability to connect and engage comes down to the internal communications technology your enterprise has in place. But what does it take to unite your multilingual workforce in the digital age?

5 comms challenges multilingual enterprises face and how to solve them

Global unification may start with translation, but it doesn’t end there. With the acceleration of digital transformation comes new opportunities to fully unite your workforce and cultivate communications channels that are open and inclusive.

As an evolution of the intranet designed to tackle a broader array of communications and engagement challenges, employee experience platforms (EXP's) have emerged to help bridge the gaps so many global enterprises face. In fact, your EXP can play a leading role as you address the most pressing multilingual comms challenges, which include:

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#1. Time zone conflicts

The problem: Your employees start and end their day at different times

Scheduling an all-staff meeting that works for your teams in Europe, Asia, and North America can be a logistical nightmare. When you need to share organizational updates with every employee, what can you do to ensure the timing works for everyone?

The solution: Lean into video

While there may not be a perfect time that will accommodate everyone’s schedule, that doesn’t mean your regional teams need to choose between missing important updates and waking up in the middle of the night to join a meeting.

Instead, leverage video to ensure everyone can get the news they are looking for at a time that works for them. Publish video townhalls on your EXP so that employees can easily access them and take advantage of commenting and reactions to encourage team members to raise their voice.

Unily intranet video upload

#2. Language barriers

The problem: You don’t speak the same language

The fact that your employees don’t speak the same language is probably your most obvious challenge. However, it is something many enterprises continue to struggle with, given that 90% of organizations face language barriers that hinder their daily work.

The solution: Superior translation services

Make language gaps a thing of the past by turning to your EXP’s translation services. A combination of machine translated content and 1:1 translation editing makes publishing language specific content simple and effective. With your content management system’s (CMS) one-click translation capabilities, you can convert your message into dozens of languages, ensuring your reach your entire workforce in their native tongue.

Unily intranet translated homepage

#3. Cultural changes

The problem: Customs and norms are different

Words and idioms aren’t the only thing that varies by region. Accepted daily behaviors and customs will differ depending on your employees’ geographic location. Instead of isolating your international colleagues or potentially offending them, global leaders must go the extra mile to create a culture that celebrates everyone’s differences.

The solution: Launch cultural awareness trainings

Effective internal communications hinges on creating relationships built on trust and understanding. Create opportunities for your entire workforce to learn about cultural sensitivity and awareness, which will enable colleagues to be more mindful of their peers’ differences, as well as the common values they share. Your EXP can serve as the backbone for cultural awareness training by centralizing resources and creating channels for open communications.

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#4. Relationship building

The problem: It’s difficult to feel connected to colleagues overseas

Connection is a common challenge in the remote era. More than 50% of employees struggle to feel connected to their colleagues and culture as a result of the pandemic. With language differences and time zone challenges added to the mix, building close relationships amongst global teams can prove particularly difficult.

The solution: Leverage your EXP’s social functionality

Next-level social features are a hallmark of multilingual intranets. Your employees can craft their unique digital identities, build their own networks and communities, and share ideas naturally, as if they were sitting face-to-face with their peers.

Instead of having language as a limiting factor, multilingual social networking ensures that connectivity transcends all bounds. Users can translate social comments and posts into their preferred language in just a few clicks, breaking down barriers and replacing them with close relationships with colleagues both near and far.

#5. Creating relevant comms

The problem: One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for global enterprises

Part of engaging a multilingual workforce is understanding what content will be most relevant to various users. Targeting will be especially crucial as enterprises look towards reopening offices and adopting hybridized work environments because your employees will likely have very different experiences depending on the health and safety protocols in the region they are based in.

The solution: Create a targeted messaging strategy

Avoid mass messaging your entire workforce about news that only pertains to employees in certain roles and regions. Instead of sending out impersonal emails that are likely to be deleted, leverage your EXP’s CMS to target content to the sub-audiences who will find it most relevant.

Unily intranet translated article

Bring your multilingual workforce together in the digital age

Take multilingual communications to the next level by leveraging your EXP to keep the conversations going and create an inclusive culture that welcomes employees from all countries and backgrounds. If you’re looking to utilize next-generation technology to unite your global enterprise, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.

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