Language and Culture Solutions for the Workplace

In the modern workforce, employees are a diverse group, both linguistically and culturally. Not only are they geographically diverse, with organisations having offices spread throughout the globe, employees in any specific office also come from backgrounds. Yet despite this, much of the training available to employees is “one size fits all” and does not cater to these linguistic or cultural differences.

To help ensure that compliance training is effective, organisations can make training material available in employees’ preferred language and have “real-world” examples relevant to employees from different regions or cultures.

Cognitive Load

Compliance training is meant to be understood by its targeted audience. It should be comprehensive enough to explain all required information, yet simple enough for staff to comprehend.

Forcing an employee to undertake training in a language other than their own increases their cognitive load, i.e. it can reduce their understanding of the topic at hand by making them translate the training content into a different language. An employee translating content themselves could double the time spent taking the training. Making training material easily available in the employee’s native language removes that extra barrier and enables them to increase their confidence in their own comprehension of the content.

Cultural Norms

Conducting business in the United States, or another Western country, can be significantly different to conducting business in countries in Asia, the Middle East, or Africa. Not only do communication styles differ, for instance shaking hands versus bowing, but also dress codes–which may factor in religious attire, as well as organisational hierarchy and etiquette.


The use of real-life scenarios is proven in adult learning theory as they allow learners to elicit prior knowledge relevant to the content they are learning.

Ensure that scenarios are relevant—not only to the employee’s job role, but also to their cultural and ethnic norms. The more “real-life” the scenarios are, the more successful they will be at communicating the information and the more likely the learner will retain it. Employees are more likely to be cynical or sceptical when presented with a scenario which differs from their region’s business customs and their own day-to-day job role.

Managing multilingual compliance training

Managing compliance training with multiple languages does not need to be a full-time job. The simplest way is to ensure the learning management system (LMS) allows for a language to be turned on or off with the check of a button.

When selecting an LMS, consider how easy it is for additional languages to be added to a course over time.

Combining cultural norms with linguistic requirements

Delivering a course to a diverse geographical workforce requires more than just translation; it requires a combination of region-specific content, such as scenarios based on the learners’ cultures and norms, and the ability for the learner to select their preferred language.

Introducing Salt Adaptive

Salt Adaptive allows you to build content quickly and easily, that exports via SCORM to your LMS or directly into the Salt Compliance LMS.

Salt Adaptive allows for content to be created in 23 languages all contained within a single course package making deployment a very simple task. A learner may choose a language at any point in time and reporting data is collated within the single course package.

Click here to see how Salt Adaptive can help you create, deploy, maintain, and report on your compliance eLearning.