At this time of year there are numerous articles sharing HR trends and predictions for 2019. I’ve been reading many with interest as I think it’s really important that companies like Comtec are aware of developments that affect our clients in HR.
From these articles and our own experience working with HR professionals in multinational organisations, here’s an overview of key trends for 2019 with an insight into how to translate and localise HR content effectively for a multinational workforce.
5 HR trends that need localisation
- Personalisation – one size doesn’t fit all
Many prediction lists feature ‘personalisation’ this year. This is about creating personalised experiences for employees, rather than expecting everyone to fit into a one-size-fits-all HR programme. Some of the HR professionals we work with are already embracing this trend, offering personalised employee experiences at key stages in an employee’s career. For example, the recruitment and on boarding experience, learning and development, and career progression.
For global workforces, personalisation needs to also take into account different cultures and, of course, language requirements. This requires an in depth understanding of the motivations, aspirations and cultural drivers in the different markets your employees work and live in. You may find that employee expectations for L&D, for example, are very different in one country compared to another.
It can be a good idea to recruit support from local market colleagues to review your HR content to obtain a really good insight into what employees in that market expect and want from their employer. Then use localisation techniques to align your internal communications with those needs and desires. By highlighting the things that are important to employees in different markets, you’ll get much higher engagement with your communications and HR programmes.
- Collaboration – do you need an official corporate language?
A significant trend in recent years has been the increase in flexible and remote working. As a result, HR professionals have needed to find ways to facilitate this mobility, but at the same time promote opportunities for collaboration between colleagues around the world.
Many organisations have introduced an official corporate language for senior leaders to remove language barriers and make collaboration easier. This has advantages when your employees are proficient in the official corporate language (often English), but it can also lead to misunderstandings and feelings of awkwardness.
If using English as an official corporate language is something your organisation is adopting, it’s important to have a strategy to support non-native speakers. Offering language lessons to boost confidence and also upskill employees in other areas of the business can support this policy; as well as ensuring that native and experienced speakers support their colleagues by checking that they understand different communications.
While adopting an official corporate language can have a positive impact on collaboration, I think it’s important to still invest in HR translation and interpretation services for some types of communication. Learning & Development programmes are a good example, where engagement and completion rates can drop when an employee has to navigate the language as well as the content of the programme.
- AI – can a robot engage with employees on your behalf?
Automation is coming to HR with Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions predicted to improve all kinds of HR processes. Recruitment is a key area where AI solutions are set to support talent selection by helping to process applications, reduce bias and enhance efficiency.
However, AI is only as good as its available training material. For AI to have the perception of a human HR professional, large amounts of high quality data are needed. For language related tasks, for example if your AI solution shortlists candidates by screening CVs, mountains of data may be needed for different languages and markets.
Here at Comtec we’re monitoring these developments closely. There are software solutions that can support multilingual AI tools, for example they can translate incoming user requests to a chatbot. However, that chatbot needs to be trained in each language, including any industry or company specific multilingual terminology. Training AI solutions in the languages your employees use will therefore be an important part of getting the benefits of this technology. If you want to discuss this in more detail, please get in touch to find out how Comtec can support you.
- Employer branding – localising culture for different cultures
Another trend that features on many prediction and trend lists is ‘employer branding’ and the importance of leveraging branding proactively, especially for recruitment and retention. We’re seeing lots of HR departments take control of the employer brand by promoting company culture and values across social media and other channels, here in the UK and in their global markets.
As with personalisation, global organisations also need to factor in employee expectations and cultural differences in the countries they operate in. The global company culture and values are an important part of the employer brand, but aspects of it may need to be dialled up or down, depending on the markets your communications are targeted at.
- Wellbeing – is your global workforce happy and healthy?
Finally, employee wellbeing. It’s a priority for HR leaders around the world, with the impact of digitalisation and globalisation often being attributed to a reduction in the health and wellbeing of employees. Many employees, regardless of where they live and work, are overwhelmed by digital communications, find they’re working longer hours and are feeling stressed as a result.
No doubt your organisation has a corporate wellbeing programme, in fact it probably consists of a number of different programmes to provide employees with a range of support such as physical and mental health, financial literacy, leadership, relationships etc.
This is another trend which requires some thought about localisation to ensure employees engage with the wellbeing programmes available. For example, here in the UK we have become more accustomed to talking about workplace stress and mental health issues, although stigmas do remain. However, in some other countries these subjects are more sensitive. Therefore, content about mental health in the workplace may need more than a literal translation to ensure that employees engage with it. Text may need to be slightly repositioned to avoid offending or disengaging employees, and often imagery needs changing to better reflect the target audience’s preferences.
I hope you’ve found this overview of HR trends from a translation and localisation perspective useful. If you have any questions about the subjects I’ve touched on, please contact me, or add a comment below.
To find out more about Comtec’s translation services and how we can support your HR department, download our company brochure here.