Below are the top 10 reasons why companies should provide cross-cultural training to their employees.
1. The composition of most workforces is rapidly evolving
Homogeneous workforces are approaching extinction in most industrialized countries. Successful businesses that function like a well-oiled machine have workers from diverse cultural backgrounds and are able to retain those employees.
2. Companies are increasingly expanding into emerging markets
As industry giants continue to solidify their presence overseas, small businesses are increasingly expanding overseas and into emerging markets. Over half of all small businesses have international clients and nearly three out of every four small businesses plan to expand their overseas presence by 2017.
3. Cultural competency helps to build trust with customers and employees
Encouraging employees to engage in cross-cultural training illustrates a company’s genuine interest in learning more about their customers and their own workforce. When employees and customers feel valued, they are more likely to trust a company and associated products.
4. Cross-cultural training can boost international sales
Once a foundation of trust is established between a company and a customer, the likelihood of securing the customer’s business is much higher. Customers located overseas typically appreciate efforts to understand their culture and are more likely to work with culturally aware suppliers.
5. Employees learn that the concept of time differs from culture to culture
There are pronounced cultural differences in attitudes toward time. Failure to recognize these differences can lead to behaviour that is offensive to members of some cultures. For instance, attitudes toward time are much more relaxed in many Latin American countries while the opposite is the case in the U.S., Japan and England.
6. Fewer errors occur when employees have received cross-cultural training
When members of a diverse workforce receive cross-cultural training, the likelihood for misunderstandings is reduced. For instance, the Spanish verb “cancelar” can be used to terminate a subscription or it may be used when discussing settlement of a debt. Cross-cultural training can help alert employees to such phrases and verbs that have multiple meanings.
7. Ability to attract a more diverse workforce
Ability to attract a more diverse workforce. News about workplaces with culturally sensitive environments travels quickly. Employees who spend the day at a workplace that recognizes their cultural beliefs and habits are more likely to refer family members and friends who share their beliefs and cultural background. The result is an increasingly diverse workplace.
8. Employees are better prepared to interpret nonverbal communication
Co-workers and customers from other cultures engage in nonverbal communication that may be misunderstood by employees who have not received cross-cultural training. Gestures, handshakes, pointing, smiling, and eye contact are all examples of nonverbal communication that could potentially be misinterpreted.
9. The ability to create a culturally friendly website
Cross-cultural training should be received by members of every department within an organization, especially a company’s marketing department. This ensures that your company’s website – the face of your company to many prospective customers – is designed in a way that is clear and well-received by members of cultures across the globe.
10. Key documents are prepared in a culturally sensitive fashion
Brochures, operation manuals, technical specification sheets and client letters are prepared using culturally sensitive language. Translation of key documents is also more likely to be provided.
Clearly, there are many reasons to incorporate cross-cultural training into your workplace. Failure to emphasize the importance of recognizing cultural differences can hinder your ability to attract and retain employees and customers. By including cultural sensitivity content in your workforce training programs, you will help your business thrive.
This article was originally published by The Network, the world's local recruitment experts, at www.the-network.com.