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Building Corporate Training Content for a Diverse Local & Global Workforce:
The Challenges and How to Overcome Them

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The corporate training and e-learning market size is currently estimated at around a quarter of a trillion – a bit higher or lower depending on the market research resource – and is forecast to at least triple by 2030.  

This surge is triggered by a number of changes that have taken place over the past 5 years in the socioeconomic environment with a changing workforce landscape, in terms of age, the gig economy, talent mobility, and the advancements of technology. 

Changes that have affected the workplace landscape 

  • AGE – baby boomers that have been dominating the work force are exiting and their places are being filled in by millennials in higher positions, but also gen zedders with increasing expectations and a quick rise in the hierarchy ladder. 
  • GIG ECONOMY – staff tenure has seen record low numbers while the great resignation hit companies hard during and after Covid with the number of independent contractors and freelancers, who are not always on-site and require flexible training and development options, increasing drastically. 
  • TALENT MOBILITY – we may have been talking about globalization over the past 10 years but I would argue that when it comes to the corporate world and its talent, we have just scratched the surface. The ability of technology to support fully remote working arrangements has brought down all location and geographical barriers in the employment world and shifted the power balance in the corporate sphere. Now talent has access to any employer in the world and companies can employ any professional in the world no matter where one or the other is located. And this is just the beginning. 
  • TECHNOLOGY – the advancements in technology are exponential and while educational systems cannot keep up with the speed of this progress, it is imperative for the survival of businesses to ride that wave otherwise they will perish. This has put unprecedented pressure on corporates to undertake not only to upskill and reskill their existing workforce but also to link the gap between the academic qualifications and the actual skills new entrants in the professional world need. 

And although, the e-learning ecosystem is growing and growing to include different roles and skills, from instructional and graphic designers to subject matter experts, quality assurance specialists and developers, and while companies brag about how their e-learning solutions have reduced their HR costs for recruitment, onboarding, training and retaining talent, user engagement is still a pain point for the industry and the ROI of training is still only vaguely and implicitly indicated by relation to other corporate metrics. And this is no news if one considers the challenges the afore-mentioned changes pose on corporate e-learning content creators. 

So, let’s try to analyze some of them. 

Local and Global Corporate elearning

Challenges for corporate training content relating to age 

When designing corporate e-learning content for different age groups, there are several key considerations that pose a challenge: 

Learning style: Different age groups tend to have different learning styles. For example, younger employees may be more visually oriented and prefer videos and graphics, while older employees may prefer more text-based materials. So it’s important to consider how best to present the information in a way that is accessible and engaging for each group and also try to go for an option that would cater for more than one age groups.  

Technology proficiency: Age can also play a role in technology proficiency and familiarity, so it’s important to take into account the level of comfort each age group has with technology. The ultimate goal when designing corporate training content and courseware in order to avoid tech challenges is to design courses that are as user-friendly as possible. 

Attention span: Attention span can also vary by age, so it’s important to keep the length of the e-learning content appropriate for different groups. Younger employees may be able to handle longer, more in-depth content, while older employees may prefer shorter, more focused bites of training. Providing different options for delivery flexibility could be the key to greater engagement and training efficiency. 

Delivery format: There are many options in terms of format L&D teams can make use of, from static presentations and heavy on information content, to bite-sized animation and gamified training. But the format of corporate training can also impact its effectiveness for different age groups. For example, younger team members may prefer interactive and gamified formats, while older members may prefer more traditional formats with more static content and less interactivity. 

Corporate Training challenges

Challenges for corporate training content relating to the gig economy  

Another challenge when designing corporate training content is posed by the rise of the gig economy and time-specific engagement. When one is designing training content for project-based contractors, the main considerations are speed and efficiency of training, therefore e-learning content should be: 

  • highly relevant; providing practical knowledge and skills that can be applied immediately in their work 
  • flexible; offering self-paced courses, allowing for mobile access, and providing a range of learning options, such as video, audio, and text-based content 
  • allowing collaboration with community (depending on project & engagement); gig contractors may not have regular in-person interactions with colleagues or peers, so, if project allows, providing opportunities for collaboration, such as discussion forums, live webinars, and other interactive features, can foster engagement.

Challenges for corporate training content relating to talent mobility and a global workforce 

Building training for people in different geographies with different cultures and languages is a multi-faceted challenge for L&D teams which spans from conception to implementation to delivery. Here is a list of some points one should keep in mind when designing content in English but with a view to localizing it for different cultures. Corporate training content localization goes a long way and translation is only a part of it. Let’s explore some cultural aspects that render the localization of content imperative for training, if we are to achieve ROI on our investment. 

Cultural differences: humor, body language, and expressions that are common in one culture may not be appropriate or understood in another culture as different people have different communication conventions.  

For example, in the US, sarcasm and irony are two of the most widely used forms of humor and a US speaker might make a sarcastic comment like, “Oh great, just what I needed today, another meeting,” when they are actually feeling overwhelmed by their workload. On the other hand, in the UK, sarcasm and irony tend to be more subtle and understated, and in this case a US speaker might not immediately recognize the humor and might not respond appropriately leaving the UK speaker feel that their joke fell. 

Training and elearning

Attitudes towards authority and hierarchy: Different cultures have different attitudes towards authority and hierarchy, but also decision-making and risk-taking, and training content must take these differences into account to ensure that the material is culturally appropriate and effective. 

There are different methodologies and tools that deal with that, like the Hofstede cultural dimensions for organizational culture that provide insights to power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation and indulgence, or the Erin Meyer Culture Map which compares the dimensions of communication, evaluating, deciding, leading, trusting, disagreeing and scheduling in different countries. 

In action, comparing the US, Mexico and Japan in the Erin Meyer country mapping tool, the leading dimension marks significant deviation between these three countries, with the US favoring a more egalitarian leadership style with flat organizational structures and communication skipping hierarchical lines, whereas Japan stands at the opposite side with multilayered and fixed organizations with clear lines of hierarchy, and Mexico stands somewhere in between. Just taking a look at this, it is so evident how much a leadership training course for example designed for a US-based audience would need to be adjusted and localized when addressed to Mexico and Japan.  

Country mapping tool - corporate training content

On the other hand, comparing the US, Canada and Australia in the Hofstede model, you can see how similar these cultures are. 

Hofstede model- corporate training content

So, companies operating in multiple geographies would need to acknowledge those significant differences and similarities, and allow for budget and flexibility that would empower their L&D teams to adjust corporate training content accordingly. In order to increase the stickiness and efficiency of training in different countries, companies would need to add multiple levels and stakeholders, and create supporting material for cultural consultation, such as cultural guides. Corporate training content localization is a process and target audience insights and analyses can provide very useful grounds for adjusting content for relevance. 

Education systems: Education systems can vary widely between countries and cultures, and this poses challenges even for corporate training content which must be adapted to ensure that the material is accessible and relevant to learners in different regions. 

For example, although both the UK and Scandinavian countries place a strong emphasis on the importance of education and have highly developed educational systems, Scandinavian countries emphasize a holistic assessment of student learning and development, placing a stronger emphasis on creativity, independent thinking, and hands-on learning, while the UK curriculum is more structured and focused on rote learning and memorization. 

So, when designing or localizing corporate training content for a Scandinavian audience, one should emphasize student-centered learning by incorporating interactive and hands-on activities, and should include activities designed to encourage students to think critically and come up with their own ideas and solutions, such as brainstorming sessions, problem-solving exercises, and group projects. On the contrary, when designing an e-learning course for a British audience, the course may be more focused on delivering information and knowledge, with less emphasis on interactive and hands-on activities.  

Social and cultural norms: Social and cultural norms, such as attitudes towards gender, diversity, and inclusion, which are also reflected in language in most cases, can have a significant impact on the localization of corporate training content. For example, English is a non-gendered language whereas all other European languages are gendered languages. This means that gender (masculine, feminine, neutral) is explicitly indicated in their grammar and vocabulary. In some countries, there are strong efforts being made to introduce and use a more gender-neutral language in corporate environments while in others these efforts are just starting. These norms must be carefully considered when localizing content to ensure that it is culturally appropriate and effective, but also as another tool to support DE&I initiatives and programs. 

Building Corporate Training Content for a Diverse Local & Global Workforce; The Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Create a strategy – don’t gamble your training budget away 

The challenges for building corporate training content and localizing it or adjusting it for a diverse local & global workforce might seem big, but it’s not something L&D teams cannot overcome by putting a strategy together to enhance corporate training content localization, and the support of a knowledgeable language service company can definitely prove useful. 

Tips for building awesome training content 

  1. Do your research; gather demographics for your target audiences and use proven methods, such as the Erin Meyer country mapping tool or the Hofstede Insights, or for a matter of fact any other methodology you or your HR team find more useful, to decipher them and translate them into meaningful action items for your strategy.
  1. Use tools that allow for different delivery methods and try to offer the option and variety to your audiences – for example, videos with subtitles and voice over.
  1. Select partners for your corporate training content localization who have in-country teams and experience in handling multiple languages, as they can provide useful cultural insights and help you build language assets, such as style and cultural guides, to structure your content localization strategy around maximizing relevance and effectiveness for local teams.
  1. Don’t necessarily seek standardization across geographies; some cultures will require heavier and more extensive localization than others (see examples above), it is important that your teams have the flexibility to apply different workflows and/or steps. 
  1. Create communication channels between your localization partners and your instructional designers to discuss best practices that would streamline content localization – an example of such best practice is to agree on the use of more neutral imagery to avoid the need for replacing images when localizing for different audiences.
  1. Ask for feedback from your local and global users and optimize content, delivery methods and other characteristics accordingly.

Contact the friendly team at Commit Global today to take the next step in your business’s international growth journey. We are equipped to deliver industry-leading eLearning content tailored to global audiences.

Read also:

What Is eLearning Localization? How Is It Different from Translation?

Closing the Corporate Communications Gap With Localization

7 Ways to Successfully Manage International Teams

Measuring the Localization ROI in Corporate Training

8 Tips for eLearning Localization

The Benefits of Localization for Your Global Training Strategy

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