What happens when you can’t speak your employees’ language?


According to studies, 60-90% of whatever an employee learns is forgotten. Or never applied to the job or, even worse, never understood during organizational training sessions. 50% of corporate training and internal communication initiatives in companies across the globe fail. Why?

While many industries acknowledge the benefits of an international working force, managements fail to appropriately adapt their corporate training to their working force’s native languages.

Assumption is the mother of all mistakes.
“But all my employees speak English”. Think again.

English is the corporate lingua franca and language of choice. Especially when developing training material for global workforces. In this training material, we’re talking onboarding content, corporate training or technical presentation or products or services. But it comes with a lot of downsides when assuming that English always is the way to go.

Assuming English as the only training language:

–      Fails to recognize the world’s different lingua francas

Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin are also used as lingua franca in several areas of the world. For example, German and Russian are sometimes used as lingua franca in Eastern Europe. Especially outside of the capitals, it isn’t uncommon to encounter workers who are unskilled in English and favour a different lingua franca.


–      Excludes non-English speaker workers

When your internal courses and video presentations are purely in English, you’re automatically excluding all non-English speaking workers. As a result, your employees might lose interest and feel demotivated, unable to understand and process the given information fully.


In the worst-case scenario, part of your workforce might feel ashamed of pointing out their language limitations, altogether abandoning all training and not informing their managers.


–      Diminishes the chances of proper learning

According to Forbes Insights, 80% of respondents agreed with the statement that workers are more productive when their managers communicate with them in their native language.

First-language training gives employees a better understanding of the subject matter and makes them retain information more efficiently. This is because human brains comprehend the subject matter more efficiently when they are trained in their native languages. Every language has its specific nuances and intonations, and it’s by understanding and embracing these nuances that you can assist your audience in capturing the message better.


–      Poses a safety risk

Failing to address your learners in the language(s) they naturally use to communicate can result in slower learning times. It can even result in failed learning objectives but also be fatal for some sorts of training.


Misunderstanding of training regarding safety and machinery or technical learnings can be fatal and lead to lost revenue, decreased productivity and injury or loss of life. This is especially crucial for workers in high-risk sectors, such as manufacturing and construction. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that language barriers are a factor in 25% of on-the-job accidents. In Europe, studies have also found out that insufficient communication due to language differences increases workers’ exposure to work accidents and safety and health risks in general.

By training and communicating in your workforce’s native languages, you can acquire and develop the very best employees. By doing so, you can close gaps between native and nonnative speakers as they collaborate to meet their goals. Also, it can help make them feel more included and motivated, because of the improved communication. You’ll also strengthen your company’s footing in local markets and increase safety. In short, you can turn language into a source of competitiveness.

VoiceArchive has over 20 years of experience in the voice-over industry, providing quick localization, translation, and voice-over of scripts for all kinds of corporate audio productions. Find out more about our services here.

Get in touch with our team for a free consultation.

Anna Sticken

Global Key Account Manager