Putting the ‘Human’ Back in ‘Human Capital’
“Human capital” sounds like something Charlton Heston would shout to a crowd: “Soylent Green is…human capital!” But for many companies in a globalized, increasingly automated world, the people behind the business are the most important asset. Companies across the world are trying to find out how best to cultivate this resource. In our eyes, it boils down to a simple principle: care for the human first.
Reports like the Mercer Global Talent Trends Study or Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends are full of useful data that represent employee preferences. Collectively, these reports show companies what their employees need to be healthy and productive: fair, equal pay and flexible work hours top the US lists for 2017. Among all this data, though, it’s easy to lose sight of the human lives behind the data. Creating empathetic, individual-focused HR policies that prioritize your employees’ well-being strengthens your company and ultimately leads to better products. As a translation company, we think that language and cultural awareness are important components of a strong human capital focused philosophy.
Personalizing the Work Experience
We hear a lot about the personalization of ads, marketing, and experiences for consumers, but it’s easy to forget about the experiences of the people creating those products: employees.
Every employee is different–they bring different strengths and add value to companies in different ways. So why should every employee’s work experience be the same? Automation and technology are changing the way employees (and companies) work. How and where that work occurs, as well as pay and benefit structures adapted to the new workplace, should also change.
Companies that want to retain their talent and attract new talent understand that providing flexible work structures for their employees benefits everyone. A personalized, flexible work experience is especially important for employees who may not have the lifestyle required for a regular, no-interruptions 8-to-6 job: parents, caretakers, differently abled, and freelance or contract workers. Although we spend most of our lives working, life doesn’t stop when we get to the office, and employees do their best work for companies that understand this principle.
Attending to cultural differences in workplace priorities can help you create personalized employee experiences. For example, according to Mercer’s recent study, employees in the US, Canada, China, Italy and Singapore most want to work in workplaces that offer fair and competitive compensation, but workers in Japan prioritize transparency about pay calculations and clear alignment of personal goals with the company’s goals. Employees in Brazil, Mexico, India, and South Africa primarily want opportunities for promotion, while workers in the UK, Hong Kong, and Australia want their leaders to set a clear direction for the company and for tasks.
An awareness of cultural differences among workplaces can help companies with global operations shape region-specific HR policies that best suit the needs of their employees. An office in Mexico might look for ways to reward worker contributions with promotions, while a branch in Hong Kong can ensure that leadership communicates clearly with employees.
In a globalized workplace, the language of the workplace significantly affects employee experience. English is becoming a global language and it’s largely the language of business, but assuming that employees will fully comprehend and identify with content written in English can easily alienate workers. Companies that care about the well-being of their workers know that putting materials in a local language makes workers comfortable and more productive — a net win for any company.
We’ve written before about how translating training materials can contribute to a more efficient workplace, and years of research reaffirms this idea. On the consumer side of business, even those comfortable with English prefer to read and buy in their own language, according to Common Sense Advisory’s 2014 study. Employees at a global company are no different from the consumers the company is trying to reach, and so there’s a persuasive case for translating and localizing training materials.
Given how quickly technology changes, and how much business is now becoming digital, it’s likely that a company will need to train and retrain employees in new procedures often. Being able to train employees smoothly and quickly means they’ll be more engaged, preparing the company to adapt to any change. In our own experience, localizing training materials has proven to be a great strategy for a better employee experience. It’s better for companies, too: the large and medium-sized multinational companies we’ve worked with notice that translating HR materials to train new employees or implement a change in practice increases the rate (by 45-65%) and speed of adoption (up to 50%).
Why Caring for Employees Matters
All this data about human capital trends tells us something else, too: competition for the best talent is going to be even fiercer than before. Mercer notes that 92% of employers “expect an increase in competition for talent” in the next year (4). Employees want to work with companies who are flexible, adapting to the changing workplace, and who can demonstrate that they value their employees’ work and well-being. By paying attention to employees and demonstrating a willingness to listen to their needs, companies can create a strong, adaptable, hardworking workforce.
To find out more about how we at Venga have helped companies adapt to changes in the workplace, check out some of our management brochures or contact our experts! Give us a call, send an email, or request a quote here.