Cross-Cultural Communication Strategies for a Global Workforce

A global workforce has become the norm for many businesses, across all industries, which means today’s managers require an effective strategy for cross-cultural communication within their team.

Appreciating difference, understanding cultures, and removing language barriers, can all be difficult talents for a manager to juggle, but help is at hand.

In order to fully understand the needs of your global workforce, it is necessary to actively pursue a communication assessment, and structure a plan which encompasses cross-cultural training for staff, and managers, so that effective communication is achieved.

The points listed below will help you to focus your training, and find the right balance to benefit your workforce.


1. Cultural Requirements

Unfortunately, it is not possible for all of us to be an expert in a multitude of languages, cultures and nations. However, we can endeavour to learn about specific cultures that are most applicable to our workforce.

Consider what your future cultural requirements are likely to be, based upon where your company is going, and how it plans to get there.

For instance, if you are a UK company branching out into an Arabic market for the first time and will require a local workforce, it is vital that initial communications are backed up with earlier cross-cultural training – on both sides of the fence.

Don’t forget, that your new team are as likely to be as unfamiliar with your culture, as you are with theirs. It is worth providing training that covers not only basic cultural differences, but also business etiquette, religious differences, and language.

Consider how different concepts such as punctuality, eye contact, body language, physical contact, hierarchy, and so on, are all altered by culture, and you’ll begin to see how cross-cultural training can assist in breaking down communication barriers within a global workforce.

Even a basic understanding of cultural difference can help alleviate many of the preliminary teething problems, which global business can suffer under when new cultures are aligned within business. A little understanding can go a long way, and employees will often appreciate your willingness to comprehend their perspective.


2. Different Types of Cross-Culture Training

Once you have ascertained the need for cross-cultural communication within your workforce, it then becomes necessary to consider what type of training is best suited to your needs.

There are countless training courses for cultural awareness which can offer help with issues such as, communication, expatriates’ relocation, introduction to Islam, management training, team building, or remote working.

Choosing the right training programme, based upon your company requirements, is vital in securing the best training for your team. Consider points such as:

• Are there religious differences – for example, Christianity and Islam have very different religious requirements linked to prayer, holy holidays, and gender. Understanding how these differences will affect timings of meetings, standard working days, and the number of single women who can be with alone with men, is vital to the smooth operation of business.

Language – the differences in language may require the need for interpreters at large meetings, translation of staff training documents, or in-house linguists who are able to accurately translate your requirements. Find a professional, reliable translation specialist who can assist with your growing language needs if this is necessary.

Business etiquette – you might also require some training in formal business etiquettes if there is limited experience within your team. The differences between cultures such as, English and Arabic, or Arabic and Chinese can be vast, and mistakes made within initial business meetings can be costly, or time consuming to rectify.

Cultural Competence – is the ability to work across cultures through a learned understanding of cultures on a general level. This can be beneficial if working at a high level with many different cultures, and working styles. This type of course is ideal for management who are likely to need to communicate with people from many cultures, and backgrounds.

Customer Services – if your workforce will be working in a customer facing role across different cultures, then you’ll probably require a course that offers insights into how to deal with foreign customers. This might apply to managers, front of house staff, or online customer enquiries. Understanding customer expectation is vital to your brand in new markets.


Effective cross-culture training for your workforce can offer valuable, transferable ‘soft skills’ that will enable them to become exceptional ambassadors for your company.

Customer and staff satisfaction, brand integrity, in-house communication, and productivity can all increase with the implementation of well-planned training courses.

If you would like further assistance with selecting, or designing, a training course that fulfils your company’s specific requirements, please feel free to contact us at Creative Word.

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