The challenges of training global workers
Posted on Nov 04, 2015
How can you provide effective training for all your employees wherever they are in the world?
Large businesses routinely operate across borders and they need training that can adapt to the different cultures and environments that their staff are part of.
Everyone knows that when you see the familiar Tesco sign, whether you’re stepping off a bus in Malaysia, or visiting friends in Slovakia, you’re going to get a familiar experience.
If you ask for the cornflakes you’ll be taken to them by a staff member, the checkout process will be the same and the floors will be clean. There are standards that are expected across the entire chain of stores that are kept consistent thanks to standard training.
There are some differences though, the bakery might serve different types of bread, the majority of milk may be long life rather than fresh and the sandwiches might not be pre-packaged in triangles. Training is also needed for the unique aspects of each location.
Food retailers offer the most obvious examples of the challenges in training for global organisations, but all companies face similar issues. Elearning can help overcome these problems through a number of techniques.
How can elearning help?
Elearning is one of the best ways to get this training out to your staff. It can be served centrally so any updates or translations can happen in one place and be accessed from around the world.
The key to creating a course that can be used anywhere is to break it into modules. By identifying the parts of the training that are unique to an area you can separate the parts which will require adapting from the standard core modules.
The standards that a company’s reputation and business relies upon need to be instilled in every employee, regardless of location.
Common skills that need to be consistent across an international workforce offer a great opportunity to save on costs by having one set of training for everyone performing that role.
Once the basic training is established you will need to consider both translation and localisation of the content before deployment.
Translation often doesn't require the creation of new content. If the course has been well designed the new text can be imported to replace the existing content. Working with a provider who is experienced with translation helps ensure this is a smooth process.
Some courses will require some more substantial changes. Moving from English to a right to left reading language like Hebrew for instance might require adjusting the layout of assets to make sure the learning objectives are still clear.
Localisation is the process of adapting content to fit a local area. Making sure the training is relevant to the culture and environment that the learners are part of.
In order to localise content properly you need to take account of all the different types of media in the course. Images, audio and video can all reflect the values and customs of the part of the world they’re created for.
Look for an elearning provider that has experience in, not only translation, but localisation of content, if you need to deploy the same course across many territories.
The specific training that’s required for staff in a certain location is more difficult to create. Often the training will follow the same basic processes but with key differences throughout.
Building templates allows you to create the structure of a module and then slip in the relevant content for your area. Creating another version of the module for a different but similar process is then a much more manageable task.
Every elearning authoring tool will allow you to create some sort of template, and many providers offer a template creation and training service to get you up to speed on adapting templates into new modules.
The best templates are broken down into distinct sections which can then be edited or moved individually, creating a versatile tool kit for an elearning developer to quickly put together a course which best fits the specific needs of the area.
Combining a template with translation and localisation makes it easy to introduce new region-specific training modules.
Get your staff the right training
Once you've translated, localised and modified the courses to make sure they are suitable for any member of staff no matter the location, you need to give them access to the relevant information.
Being overwhelmed with options can be a major turn-off for staff wanting to develop their skills. With so many versions of courses you need to narrow the possibilities down to a manageable selection.
Geolocation technology that’s built into web browsers and mobile devices can be used by elearning to help ease the process of serving the right content to the right people.
You may need to serve the same course on new EU regulations to everyone in Europe in their local language, and a different course on US law in English to others. Automatically detecting the region of an employee who is accessing the elearning makes it a seamless experience for them.
You can control which courses are available through an LMS (Learning Management System), so that only the appropriate courses for your audience are available to take. This solution means you get full control over who takes the training.
Alternatively, you could opt for an adaptive learning approach, allowing the learners themselves to answer questions or select options which then present them with the appropriate course.
If a staff member accidentally answers incorrectly and is steered to the wrong course, it’s easy to add safeguards that allow them to back up and make a different selection.
Here are the main reasons elearning can help when training a global workforce:
- Translation – once a final master version of the elearning is signed off the content can be translated and easily substituted into individual courses
- Localisation – elearning makes it possible to change other course assets like images and video to match the local culture without having to produce an entirely new course
- Templates – all elearning software allows creation of templates which reduce the time it takes to modify elements of the course to make them relevant to staff in different countries
- Global deployment – having the course housed on an LMS accessible from the web allows you to update it and immediately make the new version available worldwide
- Geolocation – identifying a learners location using web technology puts the relevant information in front of the right staff automatically
Many of the common pitfalls and challenges can be avoided if you use an elearning provider who has experience with delivering international elearning programmes.
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