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Compliance Training

Why Does Language Matter in Online Compliance Training?

By Josh Young May 09, 2017

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While the predictions of the early 2000s regarding the flattening of the world economy may have been slightly overblown, globalization is still a growing trend influencing several industries.

Admittedly, global goods trade and cross-border capital flows have declined sharply since 2008, but communication and the international transfer of data has skyrocketed. According to research compiled by McKinsey Global Institute, the amount of cross-border bandwidth is now 45 times larger than 2005 levels, and it will increase by an additional nine times by 2021.

Not sure which training program will be the perfect fit for your company? Read: Online Compliance Training: Making the Right Choice

Altogether, the international flow of goods, services, finance, people, and data contributes to at least 10 percent of world GDP, representing $7.8 trillion in 2014. And roughly $2.8 trillion of this value was solely from the transfer of data.

With information streaming more freely and easily between international borders, global expansion for most businesses has become much less complicated. Companies no longer need to build a replica of their entire firm oversees to engage in international commerce.

Instead, businesses are setting up operations in a less capital-intense format, relying on virtual teams of employees that can collaborate remotely and support rapid growth into new markets. And back office business services, such as human resources and payroll, can then be centralized from a few primary hubs.

The Challenges Globalization Creates

Alongside these many advantages, globalization can also introduce new challenges, particularly for your company's compliance efforts. While training in the past could be handled in bulk with in-person classes in company meeting rooms, the distributed employee model encouraged by globalization means that your compliance training may need to be delivered to multiple sites in multiple countries in multiple time zones.

In response, many businesses have turned to online training programs to keep employees informed of company processes and policies. However, not all web-based learning platforms are created equally.

When considering available platforms, localization should be a leading concern, particularly language localization. After all, English may be frequently referred to as "the language of global business," but not everyone speaks it fluently. And by presenting your compliance training in just one language, your business could be placing itself at greater risk.

Why Offer Training in Foreign Languages?

Better learning

According to a broad consensus of research, learners absorb information more readily and recall details more clearly when they are educated in their native language. After evaluating a number of bilingual education programs in various countries, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a comprehensive paper advocating native language learning for students.

In the document, UNESCO stated: "The evidence is clear: mother-tongue-based bilingual education significantly enhances the learning outcomes of students from minority language

communities." Among the advantages, learners in native-language programs experienced "superior" academic achievements than their non-native-language peers, and they "participate[d] more actively in the learning process and fe[lt] more confident about learning."

By providing your employees with a learning experience that can be more easily comprehended and that better encourages their active participation, your organization can be more confident that these important topics are being taken to heart.

Cultural context

One of the hallmarks for an effective compliance training program is flexibility -- that it can be readily customized to the unique challenges, requirements, and culture of your business. But training needs to not only consider your corporate culture but also the surrounding national culture and language.

Ideally, any training program you offer should be developed in conjunction with native-language speakers. When discussing sensitive topics, such as sexual harassment, nuance and subtlety can be critical.

This subtlety can also prove critical when discussing financial matters.

Back in 2005, Guan Xiandong, a reporter for the China News Service, caused a financial firestorm when a poorly translated article she had written began circulating throughout the web. Rather than the speculative thought-piece about a potential currency adjustment that might be coming in the future, the article was translated into English as a bold declaration of a definite change that would occur the next week. The response was sudden, with an estimated $2 billion in trades occurring within a handful of minutes after the article was reposted by Bloomberg.

And while it's unlikely that a poor translation in your training program will have as far-reaching an impact, it could easily promote misunderstanding and non-compliance.

The Next Step

By providing your employees with online compliance training in their native language, you will be better equipping them to succeed while more effectively protecting your business.

If you would like to know how Workplace Answers could help you coordinate compliance training efforts for your staff, whether in the United States or across the globe, request a demo today.

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