Internal communications are about more than sharing financial reports and staff birthdays. The McKinsey Global Institute highlights that productivity can increase by 20 to 25% in companies where employees are connected. Your internal comms have the potential to not only engage your employees but improve their output.
For those businesses with a global workforce, it’s arguably even more important to keep your employees connected. With your team spread across the globe, your internal comms are the thread pulling them together, making them feel seen, in the know and part of the organisation.
The reverse of this is true for bad quality comms – and the risk of this is much higher in those that need to be translated for a multilingual team. High-quality translations go unnoticed, but poor quality sticks out like a sore thumb and can have many knock-on effects. Sub-par communications run the risk of being ignored or worse damaging the company’s reputation with its workforce.
High-quality translations can help you avoid the following pitfalls:
The delay dilemma: If your communication has to be reworked for one territory, you’re left making a difficult decision – do you postpone your global release or let that country hear the news after all the others? It’s a no-win situation which is guaranteed to divide stakeholders’ opinions.
The distraction trap: Badly worded messages divert attention away from your real meaning. Distracted or confused readers may react badly to your message or even take inappropriate action. If you consistently release badly worded translations, your employees may learn to ignore your future message, putting compliance with processes and policies at risk.
Engagement loss: Poor communication zaps employee engagement. Messages intended to bring employees together can have the opposite effect if badly translated. Even a few disengaged employees can have a negative effect on a workplace, so if you’re trying to build a cohesive global team, e.g. after a period of acquisition, your translations must be accurate and appropriate for each territory.
Risk of litigation: Badly translated HR and Health & Safety documentation puts you at risk of litigation – not just from employees, but from affected customers too.
The loyalty leak: Your employees might mistakenly believe that poor quality translations are an indicator that you don’t value them or their contribution.
We hope our warnings didn’t put you off. This article isn’t about doom and gloom, we want to share the tools to make sure these things don’t happen to your company. So…
Here are 5 steps to help you improve your global internal comms
- Give employees a choice
Don’t assume you know how your employees want to read their messages. Show them you respect their individuality and want to make sure they get the message in the most engaging way to them. Allow them to select the language they want. Doing this shows the investment you are willing to put into internal comms and in turn their wellbeing.
- Make it relevant
Context is everything. With an effective translation partner on board, the content will be fully localised for the specific market. This means the style, tone of voice, cultural references are all adapted for the local market. Being sensitive to cultural differences can be the make or break between your message being well received or deemed irrelevant, annoying or at worst offensive. If you want to see an example of this try calling football, soccer in a UK pub during match-time.
With your comms fully localised your employees can engage with the content without distractions, making sure you meet your objective to inform and engage.
- Work with your local market teams
Geographical and cultural nuances aren’t the only nuances to be aware of. Every office and territory is likely to have their own communication style and workplace culture. By working with a member of the local team, you can sense check any cultural nuances as well as considerations that are unique to that office. If you’re considered using a local market reviewer, read our blog for some tips on making this relationship as smooth as possible.
- Speed up translations (without sacrificing quality)
Employees want to access information in their languages as quickly as they can in English. If you’re sending out an urgent communication, you need to know that the language is consistent with previous messages (including technical terminology) and that your audience will immediately grasp your meaning.
By regularly working with one translation partner you’ll have expert linguists who become an extension of your internal team. At Comtec we establish a team of freelance translators who would then work on all projects for a particular client. Our translators are fully briefed on the client, they understand the style, tone of voice, terminology to use. This helps to ensure consistency, higher quality and faster turnaround times. The translators can go faster because they are familiar with the content.
- Repeat key messages frequently
In a recent article on managing global internal communications during a change or crisis situation, HR specialist Theresa Carter recommended keeping things short and simple and repeating key messages frequently. This helps prevent your employees from becoming overloaded with information, ensures they remember what they need to and gives them a second or even third chance to correctly understand your meaning. If you’re looking for more tips on internal communication during a crisis check out our recent article.
Now you know the value of high-quality internal communications, we hope you feel empowered to get out there and either improve or start connecting with your global workforce more readily.
You’ll have noticed that quality is a word we use a lot at Comtec (13 times in this blog to be exact) we’re fanatical about it. The effort we put into ensuring every project we work on is the best it can be, is what sets us apart from our competitors.
Whether that’s working with the expert in market linguists to ensure cultural awareness, our stringent quality checks that are overseen by our Head of Quality (yep, that’s someone’s job here), through to working directly with your colleagues in the local market to make sure we understand the business in its entirety. We’re an extension of your team, partnering together to deliver the best translations possible.