All Together Now

Alan White, Business Development Director, The Translation People on Using translation to keep overseas teams engaged

The Coronavirus pandemic has compelled businesses across all sectors to transform the way they are operating, in a very short period of time. For many organisations, this has meant adapting traditional processes to be suitable for those working from home, and in line with little to no face-to-face engagement or contact with other team members.

For the majority, this is a new challenge in particularly difficult circumstances. For businesses that have teams in other countries, this isn’t as novel an obstacle, but it is heightened. Working remotely, teamed with the uncertainties and worries that many of us are experiencing due to the pandemic, can affect a worker’s wellbeing no matter where they are in the world.

Businesses and HR professionals recognise they have a duty of care to this global workforce, and are looking for ways that they can engage with their teams, supporting their mental health and keeping morale up, while still being able to effectively communicate to establish a sense of business normality and achieve the best results.

The complexities that result from employees working across diverse locations are tough to manage, and businesses must have strategies in place to make a success of it. Failure to do so can lead to professional misunderstandings, and employees feeling ignored and disconnected. To avoid this, businesses are turning to translation to ensure their communications are tailored, relevant and personal to workforces across the world.

From online training and virtual meetings, to more quirky ways of keeping in touch, such as online socials, there is technology available which enables this sort of engagement. But for international organisations, it’s not always enough just to have the tools available – they need additional support with quick, accurate and effective translation to make sure that all employees can benefit from any initiatives.

Whether it’s through virtual interpreting platforms, which enable interpreters to translate online meetings and events in real time, e-learning modules, subtitles and voiceovers for training materials, translating ‘how to’ guides, health and safety information, or infographics, there are a number of different ways translation providers can support global businesses and HR teams to engage with their staff in a personal and invaluable way during these challenging times.

Translation for workforce wellbeing

Businesses have taken it upon themselves to introduce wellbeing programmes off the back of the pandemic, with its global impact posing a real threat to millions of people’s mental health. Many have launched virtual wellbeing programmes, issued motivational internal comms materials and employee forums to ensure employees are happy, healthy and motivated.

Our client, UDG Healthcare recently created WellSpace, a place for employees to visit virtually at any time, when they need some downtime or a little pick-me-up. It features yoga classes, garden craft ideas and cooking recipes as well as working from home advice and step-by-step mental health support. Other internal comms UDG Healthcare produced included ‘top tips’ posters for employees on subjects including working from home with children, managing a remote team, effective remote meetings, managing stress and taking annual leave during Covid-19.

Having worked together for several years, we were asked to translate its content into seven different languages, to make the support available for employees far and wide. Feedback was incredibly positive; the WellSpace website had over 5,000 visits in the first week alone, while employees reported enjoying mastering new skills such as delivering virtual meetings and conferencing, and clients have been impressed with the results. The dedicated employee forum has also achieved high levels of employee engagement and interaction from colleagues across the world and is proving to be another successful piece in the company’s ‘engaging employees’ jigsaw.

Continued learning in a crisis

The global online education market was experiencing huge growth before the pandemic, with statistics suggesting it could be worth $132.98 billion by 2023 . With social distancing putting a stop to trade events, conferences and group workshops – all vital to continued professional learning – businesses have had to find an alternative to face-to-face training.

Recognising development couldn’t be put on hold and wanting to put employee safety first, companies have turned to e-learning in their swathes, bringing teams together online even when they feel very much apart.

Offering training and tutorials to encourage knowledge sharing in an interactive way shows the value you place on human interaction – even if it’s done digitally – while translating these materials to make them relevant for international audiences makes the material more accessible for a global workforce. For maximum impact, courses can be localised, which involves adapting the content to suit local culture. For example, if the English language course references Paul paying for something in Pound Sterling, the Spanish equivalent could have Pablo paying in Euro.

Applying foreign language voiceovers and subtitles will help overseas audiences feel more engaged with the content and is proven to improve performance. For example, research shows that users retain between 25 and 60 per cent more material when learning online compared to offline, because it requires 40-60 per cent less time to learn .

Take offline, online

Tools like Skype and Zoom are great ways to keep in touch with people all over the world, and have proven themselves to be vital for long distance communication during the pandemic. For example, Zoom reported its users have increased by 2000 per cent during the lockdown . For businesses with an international workforce though, additional support is needed in order to create a multilingual environment.

Pre-COVID-19, our team of interpreters would travel internationally to support international corporate conferences and events requiring translation, so discussions could take place at their true pace and without a delay in interpretation. Businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact and cut back on overseas travel time and costs began seeking an alternative, so we invested in a multilingual, remote conferencing and interpreting platform.

It facilitates an unlimited number of virtual interpreting booths that are accessed remotely by organisers and participants around the world; each is allocated one of our qualified linguists who translates live, in real time, in a user’s preferred language choice. It delivers a seamless, multi-way conference, conducted entirely online, with interpreters able to work from anywhere in the world. It has proven to be a valuable piece of technology for global businesses who simply wish to communicate with their overseas teams when international travel restrictions were at their strictest.

Though the platform is helping business leaders achieve some level of continuity in the wake of coronavirus, we are encouraging them to think about how it can support them and their teams longer term. Removing the need for travel, it can help reach sustainability targets, but also allow staff members to spend less time travelling and more time at home with their families, which will improve their wellbeing. Plus, it can save potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds which can be reinvested in other areas of the business to continue improving engagement.

Global businesses face a unique set of challenges at the best of times, but the pandemic has brought these front and centre and forced organisations to think differently. Those who have adapted quickly are likely to make such significant efficiencies, and increase team morale to such an extent, that they will never look back to the way things used to be. Those who sit still risk disengaging international employees entirely, at a time when they need the support of their team more than ever.

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