As we live in the global village, borders become not just easy to cross but something you do not have to be bothered with anymore. People around the globe interconnect with new technologies in every field imaginable – keeping in touch with relatives, online dating, and playing MMORPG (online multiplayer role-play games) with users several time zones away. and last but not least – working. Telework and remote work made the world smaller.
The importance of foreign workers
What’s the deal with hiring internationally?
Access to the global talent pool.
Staff shortages caused by e.g., generational change force companies to look out for new employees, also outside their region of residence. Various industries notice the scarcity of technicians and specialists on the market, impossible to satisfy with the local supply.
Another scenario managers deal with is an incoming pool of foreign employees moving to the company’s facility. Migration in search of work has been a well-known practice used for centuries. Although tendencies change depending on geopolitical determinants, the phenomenon is observable across industries.
Pros and cons of hiring foreign workers
Every silver lining has a cloud. Searching for staff outside the domestic neighborhood has both advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of hiring foreign workers
- Access to a broader, even global, talent pool
- Diversification of internal culture and values
- Flexibility of workforce
- Exploring new markets
- Growing operations domestically and internationally
Cons of hiring foreigners
- Formalities (work permits, local regulations, relocation costs)
- International payroll and other tax issues
- Intercultural communication and management of a diversified workforce
What are the difficulties faced by migrant workers and their employees?
Language barriers in the workplace
With over 7000 languages worldwide, global companies are on the verge of becoming the modern-day Tower of Babel. Even with a contemporary lingua franca (like English, used by over 1.3 billion people globally), the risk of getting lost in translation is not to be underestimated.
Language barriers can severely affect communication efficiency, leading to decreased quality of work or even accidents on the job. Therefore, eliminating obstacles in employee onboarding, training, and in further steps, like reporting, assigning tasks, notifying coworkers, etc., is crucial to maintaining a well-functioning workplace.
In fact, language training can be beneficial also in nationally homogeneous environments. Providing employees with lessons on e.g., business English in a multi-lingual company improves communication, eliminating deficiencies in articulation among non-native speakers.
Cultural barriers in the workplace
The second difficulty in hiring international staff may seem less severe at the first glance but shouldn’t be overlooked. Attentive managers need to take into account cultural differences, occurring even within a team of the same country of origin or speaking one language.
Cross-cultural training helps to reduce misunderstandings and avoid conflicts within the team. Providing staff with comprehensible information about cultures present in the workplace boosts mutual understanding and contributes to a better working environment.
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Nsflow in action
Solutions for training and development of international staff
Overcoming the challenges of hiring international employees entails extensive preparation in the organization. While the hiring process itself is a serious matter and consists of various steps, in this piece we focus on just a fraction of employee experience, the training.
Or: a strategy.
Within a professional organization, everything should be well-thought-out, leaving nothing to chance. Aside from the rare occurrence of a sudden, unplanned influx of foreign employees requiring ad hoc actions, other hirings usually are anticipated and preceded by planning. (Side note: unplanned hiring also does tend to happen, and as such, requires a swift response and change management to minimize associated risks. In the last year, we have observed numerous cases of spontaneous employment in Poland and other countries providing shelter to refugees from war-torn Ukraine. Thousands of immigrants managed to get jobs in countries they had never been to before and, obviously, haven’t had a chance to prepare ahead for a new environment).
Training and development of international staff
First steps in the new place of employment are vital. New hires learn about the company, its culture, and the tools used, and acquire the necessary skills to start working independently.
Safety first. Each position involves its specific, industry-related risks, and while some are minor (most possible injuries in an office setting shouldn’t endanger employees’ life), there are many serious threats in the industrial environment. No matter their seriousness, new personnel needs to be taken care of when it comes to occupational health and safety and be provided comprehensible training material.
On-the-job training can be efficiently executed without direct supervision, either. Equipping trainees with AR devices and granting them access to digital instructions allows the execution of learning processes with less engagement from instructors. While employees are carrying out training, supervisors can follow their progress, assess reports, and engage only when needed.
Best practices for training foreign workers
Redesigning training content
One-for-one translation of educational materials is not advisable when preparing content for a linguistically diverse audience. Context may be lost in translation, but that’s not the only issue to take care of. While translating text from English to e.g., Dutch may result in a similar length of the output, when you deal with German, things get tough. Taking all this into account is necessary to deliver accessible content, adjusted not only to preset text fields but also considering the audience’s convenience.
Securing various delivery methods
We’re already way ahead of traditional classroom and paper-based training. Digital tools enable the creation of diverse, engaging content that can be accessed through specialized or everyday hardware.
There’s no time to waste when delivering necessary training. Whether it’s onboarding or extending competencies later in the process, access to educational content should be unobstructed and seamless. Providing new hires with instructions and tutorials helps in efficient skill development and improves both engagement and efficiency.
There’s no doubt we’re lucky to live in times of abundance of solutions addressing everyday processes. Eliminating obstacles when hiring personnel from various countries and cultures is possible (or just: easier) provided utilizing adequate software tools.
Knowledge management tools, like Nsflow, are an all-in-one solution to containing, standardizing, and distributing resources company-wide. The AR-powered platform has all it takes to train personnel, efficiently and hassle-free. No matter if the staff in question is on-site, dispersed, speaking one common or several different languages – it’s up to the managers of the facility, to prepare educational content and assign it to employees. Nsflow allows for creating digital instructions in languages of choice, and provides various versions simultaneously.
Additionally, being hardware-agnostic, the platform doesn’t require employees to wear specialized AR devices. Digital content might as well be displayed on everyday devices, lowering the tech threshold and reducing costs.
Atop the industrial-grade AR platform, tools like Samelane LMS come to the rescue of troubled multinational/multicultural companies’ managers. The learning management system is designed to support any language to deliver top-notch learning content to its users. The LMS allows tailoring courses to current needs, and as the language demographics change, aligning content to the new users. Different language versions can be deployed to support foreign branches of the company or multilingual employees in the same team or department, according to their needs.
How to train foreign workers in your company?
A modern-day enterprise doesn’t need to fear language or cultural differences in the workplace. The rising awareness of potential troublespots goes hand in hand with the development of adequate tools for addressing training issues.
Are you building a multinational team and looking for tools to foster the skill-building process? We’re here to help. Let us know if you’d like to learn more about Nsflow and Samelane and see how digital solutions can improve your processes.