How cultural awareness training increases engagement in global teams

Posted: 11 Sep 2023

How well do you understand the culture of your global teammates?

Do you know your French etiquette from your Swedish? The typical Spanish communication style from the typical Chinese? Our latest blog is on cultural awareness training for a more inclusive, educated workplace.

By now, most businesses have become accustomed to remote working and managing global teams across a multitude of locations and languages. But is it enough now to be ‘accustomed’? Should the focus not be on building stronger relationships across international teams working virtually? After all, truly understanding cultural differences to build the best teams in a multicultural world is the key to happier staff and better business performance.

What is cultural awareness training?

Cultural awareness training is an educational programme or workshop designed to help employees develop a deeper understanding of cultural differences. The purpose of the training is to foster empathy, respect and sensitivity towards colleagues and clients from different international backgrounds.
The training might include the following subjects:

Cultural norms and values

How cultural factors can influence behaviours, decision-making and social interactions.

Intercultural communication strategies

Includes written and spoken communication as well as non-verbal cues and active listening techniques.

Marketing translators need to have a good understanding of the target market (they translate only into their mother tongue) and the relevant sector or brand to help promote the product as effectively as possible.

Stereotypes and biases

Common stereotypes and biases that may exist about different cultures.

Cultural sensitivity

How to avoid actions or language that could be perceived as disrespectful or offensive in other cultures.

Global business etiquette

Includes negotiation practices in different international regions.

Global awareness

Covers current global trends, challenges and opportunities.

Why is cultural awareness training important?

It’s one thing to ensure you have appropriate platforms and technology for global, multilingual employees connecting virtually, but how do you maintain these connections emotionally – especially across different cultures?

A poll of workers conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health’s (RSPH) found that two-thirds of workers who shifted from the office to home during the pandemic felt less connected to their colleagues. When you add cultural divide into this, it becomes more disconnected still.

In the world of work, it can be easy to assume your attitudes and mannerisms are mirrored by your teammates. But you’d be surprised by how much these change depending on your colleagues’ education, backgrounds and where they live. To create a truly inclusive work environment, an awareness of these differences is key. We call this cultural competence.

In this blog, we’ll be exploring how cultural competence can be accomplished through cultural awareness training for your global teams. From language to etiquette and everything in-between.

Avoid Cultural Assumptions

When we go abroad for work or pleasure, most of us like to make an effort to adapt to that culture, at least to some degree. Perhaps we learn a few basic phrases, try a few local dishes or soak up some of the local cultural hot spots. But when it comes to virtual engagement in the workplace, many of us fail to put in this same level of effort.

With ‘Zoom Fatigue’ becoming a household phrase, lowered engagement and enthusiasm towards our virtual colleagues is rarely personal, but it is something we should try to squash. And when it comes to culture—it’s important to educate ourselves, rather than make assumptions. For example, while you should always aim to be punctual, it helps to understand your colleagues' attitudes to time. When working with team members in Japan or Central and Eastern European countries, punctuality is a priority while Indian, French and Spanish employees are more relaxed about it.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Erin Meyer writes: “In Nigeria, a child learns to kneel or even lie down as a sign of respect when an elder enters the room. In Sweden, a student calls her teachers by their first names and, without implying any disrespect, feels free to contradict them in front of her classmates. Unsurprisingly, the management approach that works in Lagos will not get the best results in Stockholm.”

To avoid any awkward clashes in cultural behaviours, it’s useful for teams to have a good idea of these kinds of variations through cultural sensitivity training sessions that are tailored to the locations you do business in.

You’re not expected to be an expert on every culture under the sun, but a little understanding can go a long way.

Take a Practical Approach

Once you’re educated on the nuances of your workplace cultures, you can begin to take practical steps to ensure you’re nurturing an inclusive and diverse environment.


A good way to begin is by aligning on things like religious and national holidays, and the number of paid leave days across your various cultures. In this article by We Work Remotely, they suggest implementing a holiday matching program to equalise days off: “If you give US employees paid time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, for example, you should either give these same days off to your global employees or let them work these days and bank the same number of paid time off days to use whenever they’d like.”

Similarly, you can start a company-wide calendar of cultural holidays to ensure these are not overlooked, as well as organising celebrations on these days as an added incentive to learn about the cultures of your colleagues.


Kick-Start Your Training

Understanding the different cultures within your workforce will help employees to interact with each other on a daily basis. It will also strengthen communication, productivity and teamwork, allowing you to maximise the wealth of benefits that a culturally diverse team brings.

And it’s not just international teams that can benefit from cultural awareness training. Marketing departments looking to engage customers on a global scale would benefit from cultural sensitivity training to tailor their advertising strategies and increase brand loyalty. It can also help HR departments manage multilingual communications and training.

At Comtec, our cultural awareness training is carefully curated to the needs of your team. We work with you to expand your cultural knowledge and help you avoid the pitfalls of cultural blunders. Book your consultation today.


Use translation memory software

Translation memory software is the key to consistent and accurate translations across different platforms, multiple documents and large translation projects. In brief, it provides a linguistic database of all the terminology and phrasing used in your texts alongside your preferred translations. This database grows as more translations are added to it, resulting in a comprehensive and unique resource for your company. For information on the benefits of this technology read our page on the importance of Translation Memory Software.

Call in the experts

There is no denying that translating content that uses specialist terminology is a job for the experts. With both ISO 9001:2015 and EN15038 quality certifications, Comtec has developed a reputation for exceptional quality built on continuous – and rigorous – assessment of working practices. Long-term expert help can save your business money too, with more accurate and faster translations than you could ever hope to achieve alone.

We hope the above tips will help you get a clearer idea of the processes involved in terminology translation.

We’ve created a free-to-download guide to support your next steps in creating multilingual internal comms. It’s packed with tips and advice!

For further info on how we can help you with your translation queries or requirements, please give our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email We’re always happy to talk translation!