Oct 22, 2020

How to Train & Onboard Multilingual Employees

Can a global company be genuinely ‘global’ unless it employs a diverse set of people who hail from different locations, speak different languages, and belong to different cultures? Well, no. The beauty of conducting business in multiple locations worldwide is that your organization acquires a diverse workforce that brings unique perspectives and benefits to the table. However, with a diverse workforce, the responsibility of training and guiding new employees becomes crucial.

multilingual employees

As a global company, you may have adopted a one-language policy for all your internal and external communication. No doubt having an official language streamlines company processes and enables all employees to communicate on common ground. But, here are some compelling reasons why you must adopt multilingual training and onboarding for your international employees.

Benefits of Multilingual Training & Onboarding

No scope for misinterpretation or miscommunication

Getting lost in translation is a real problem. When you provide a native Spanish employee with training material in English, it is highly likely that he will translate and interpret the information in his native (Spanish) and try to make sense of it. In this process, employees misinterpret cultural cues more often than not, which results in further miscommunication. As a result, the employee is left feeling under-confident as he fails to understand the material’s nuances.

Increased safety and efficiency

If you’re involved in an industry that poses a high risk to employees’ lives (construction, gas, oil, manufacturing, etc.), misinterpretation can lead to dangerous results. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 25% of job-related accidents are due to language barriers.

multilingual training for employees

Moreover, your employees must understand the company’s processes, policies, and job descriptions correctly. Multilingual training helps them with this and ensures they have everything they need to carry out their work efficiently.

More employee engagement 

With multilingual training and onboarding, your employees will focus on the information rather than worry about interpreting it accurately. Receiving the information in their native language will help them engage more and better. Learning in one’s native language aids in the retention of the information and, consequently, better implementation.

Your multilingual workforce becomes an asset if you can provide them with the multilingual support and resources they need. You must find creative solutions to ensure that your employees’ safety and productivity don’t just get lost in translation. Since the COVID19 pandemic has caused companies (like yours) to explore remote hiring, training, and onboarding of employees – it is even more essential to make these processes engaging for your employees.

Types of Training for Multilingual Employees

1. Orientation

Orientations for new employees usually involve formal introductions and welcoming them into your company. The company’s leaders introduce themselves, and the human resources managers share details about the following:

  • Company’s vision, goals, principles
  • Overview of different departments and their leaders
  • Employee information like benefits, leaves, compensation, etc.
  • Company policies
  • Administrative and tech procedures like setting up their systems, creating logins, sharing access to company accounts, etc.

Your HR department will be sharing a large part of this information via e-material (documents, PDFs, presentations). Translating and localizing this material will ensure that any employee isn’t at a disadvantage because he/she failed to understand the information accurately. An ideal language services provider (LSP) will be translated and localize this material for you in any format you’re dealing with.

Moreover, in the case of remote employees, there’s a chance you might not be able to arrange one-on-one meetings with the company’s leaders for every employee. The smart thing to do here is to ask the management to record a video of them talking about its values and professional journey. Later, you can add multilingual subtitles to the video so every employee can choose to consume the content in their native language.

It just takes a week for a new employee to determine whether he/she can see himself/herself in your company for a long time. So, you must pull all the stops to engage and inspire them.

2. Onboarding

Onboarding is essentially an extension of the orientation. It is the process of integrating an employee into your organization. This process includes various social, ethical, and technical aspects:

  • Familiarizing the employees with your services and products
  • Helping them learn about their job scope and expectations
  • Setting performance criteria, targets, etc.
  • Skills and knowledge sharing

Global companies are also sharing educational videos with their remote employees about the ideal way to set up their workstation at home, increase their productivity, and manage stress. Since there is so much information that the employee needs to grasp quickly, break it up into small segments to fit their attention span. This information can be in the form of a presentation or a video. Recording authentic multilingual voice-overs can add a great audio component to the learning process. This will help employees who grasp and retain information better with audio-visual learning.

3. Technical training

Suppose you’re operating in an industry that expects the employees to have specific technical skills and requires them to follow a set of safety guidelines. In that case, instructional videos are the best format to employ.

Depending on the content, you can create animated or whiteboard videos. Whiteboard videos use an engaging storytelling style and are best for technology-related content, such as installing and using software, how-to content, etc. Animated videos are apt for more hands-on skills required for construction, handling heavy machinery, product manufacturing, etc. Adding voice-overs ensures that your employees follow the instructions correctly. As stated before, this is especially important for their safety and security

4. Soft skills training

Soft skills are essential for the employees to carry out their job responsibilities, collaborating with other employees, and interacting with customers and clients. They typically include the following:

  • Communication
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management skills
  • Professional etiquette

Given the nature of the material, this content needs formats like videos, presentations, and audio that use real-life situations to explain how they must conduct themselves. It always helps to hold interactive sessions where members of the human resources (or other relevant departments) employ role-playing to engage the employees. You can collaborate with an LSP for their remote interpretation services for all the languages your employees speak in such cases.

Tips for training & onboarding multilingual employees


Whether it’s online training or offline training, these processes help your company make a great first impression. They help instill confidence in your employees and prepare them to perform their tasks in the best way possible.




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Aarohi Pathak

Aarohi Pathak

Aarohi Pathak is the Senior Content Writer at Translate by Humans. A former English literature student, she believes that the world's best stories are yet to be written. Given a choice, Aarohi happily wears the copywriter's hat and combines words that drive action. She has previously written content for finance and insurance, FMCG, and technology industries.

When she's not writing, Aarohi spends time collecting mugs, reading, and checking TV series off her 'to watch' list.

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