Mihai Vlad, VP AI & Machine Learning Solutions at SDL, discusses the increasingly important role of language in internal communication
It is an acknowledged truth that enterprises are having to rethink the traditional way of working together more than ever in recent times. Businesses are going multinational in many ways. They bring in outsourcers from other countries, there are higher levels of remote working across borders, and even new ways of working, like hot-desking.
In the UK alone this year, there are 5 million non-UK nationals working in the country. This, and the demand for companies to become more global, shows that there is a clear business need to ensure that employees can engage with each other and collaborate in multiple languages and cultures for employees at all levels, from the top to the bottom.
In fact, there is a strategic need to convey corporate values and strategy and the latest announcements across different countries and different cultures. And yet, many enterprises neglect to ensure that all their workers are able to receive that information on their terms, leaving employees left out of the loop and unable to connect to the enterprise in a meaningful way. So what is the secret to making internal communication seamless in a truly global environment?
The solution to improving internal communication is routed in translation. Why? How many communications have been misunderstood due to poor translation? How much knowledge hasn’t been shared due to language barriers? How many collaborations have failed due to a lack of mutual understanding? There are many benefits that arise when a business prioritises translation.
The art of subtlety
Whilst speaking to new customers in their own language may seem obvious, many businesses overlook the importance of hitting the right cultural note when speaking to their own employees.
Whereas the benefits of translation may be more apparent when working and communicating to external stakeholders or customers, doing the same internally is also key. Poor translation is easy to spot and mixed messages could mean that, at best, one country is not delivering the same message as another and, at worst, they are delivering the wrong message entirely. This could be incredibly costly and time wasting as well as damaging to internal culture.
In a crisis comms situation, this would be even more vital. Constructing the perfect internal comms update when a disaster occurs to your company may take weeks but it will all be lost in seconds if it is translated poorly.
Much to gain
Effective and instant translation on the other hand alleviates the need for risk and supports enterprises in attracting and retaining talents that are more diverse. Just like a customer, employees will always respond better to someone speaking to them in their own language. Tailoring content strengthens the employee/enterprise relationship by delivering valuable and impactful messages. The employees better understand the corporate strategy, feel concerned and more involved.
Using artificial intelligence (AI), businesses and brands can achieve this globally through translating content internally at scale, in a matter of seconds at a national and hyper-local level. Machine translation can undertake these nuances and educate its translation services in a way that human translation cannot, simply due to time and scale. As employee expectations continue to increase, the need to translate well will not relent. In fact, it will become even more important.
Fundamentally, enterprises must take a step back and re-assess their internal communication strategies. Review all current processes and then rebuild a strategy that has translation at its heart. Once they do, they will begin to see instant benefits. The fact is, translation is not just a useful tool anymore, it’s a essential part of day-to-day corporate strategy.