Why Cross Cultural Training is a Must for International Businesses in 2021

Cross cultural training

Cross cultural training for international businesses has been an integral part of organisations for years. However, after facing the last 16 months of the COVID-19 outbreak, maintaining cultural relationships and an openness towards other cultures has become essential.

The one thing COVID has taught us is that we are all in this together, so shouldn’t there be more emphasis on trying to learn about one another?

Digital technology has opened up new possibilities for businesses. Hiring (and setting up business channels) abroad has never been so easy. This means mastering the art of cross-cultural communication has never been more important.

So, what is cross-cultural training? What are the latest best practice tips? And how do international businesses get started?

What is cross cultural training?

Practised for years in many international businesses, cross-cultural training provides opportunities for expatriates to develop their understanding of the country they are travelling to or communicating with. The main concepts involved are cultural awareness, cultural competence, cultural safety, cultural humility, and cultural intelligence.

Employees are given the opportunity to learn about the culture and values of a destination country, the beliefs and norms, practical hints and tips for daily living, work issues to specific situations, cross-cultural communication, reflect on cultural assumptions, and to make comparisons to the culture of origins.

Whilst learning about other cultures is a key part of this training, employees must also gain an awareness of their own cultural background and place in the world. By understanding yourself, you gain an awareness of your own impact on others.

Employees gain the ability to recognize the differences and similarities between cultures and, in doing so, the capability to adjust to different cultural contexts.

What are the latest trends in cross cultural training?

The face of cross-cultural training has shifted massively over the last 10 years. Everything is all about moving with the world – becoming more connected through international and multicultural growth.

Below are a few predicted trends that international businesses will adopt:

  • Training everyone (not just expats)

Understanding different cultures is needed at all levels of business – multicultural teams, business travellers, HR, short-term assignees, virtual teams, interacting with clients and vendors abroad.

  • Integrating Technology

As technology develops, so must the delivery of training. Examples of how to introduce technology more into cultural training: information directly into portals and intranets, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), texting apps, chatbots and training on machine applications.

  • Adopt an Honest Approach

Trust and honesty mean more business, supplementing businesses’ credibility. Open and honest communication is needed now more than ever, with COVID meaning more virtual meetings where miscommunication can easily take place.

  • Changing language

Avoid labelling misunderstood interactions as “abnormal” “weird” or “wrong”. Changing slight linguistical approaches can drastically make all parties more comfortable.
These examples are all based around a larger inclusion of different people and their cultures, encompassing as many people as possible.

What are the factors influencing these latest trends?

What is influencing international businesses to change their approaches to cross cultural training?

  • Growing emphasis on virtual training – more access to material
  • There is an increase in connectivity through the internet, social media, and remote working
  • Having culturally diverse teams gives businesses different ways of thinking to develop new approaches to problems
  • COVID – the so-called “new normal” creating distance between businesses and audiences

One main factor is the rise of the modern learner. These employees are keen to learn (with 94% of employees saying they would stay at a company if it invested in their career) and want to develop skills in body language, communication, emotional intelligence, critical thinking. This shows a shift away from practical knowledge, and a greater emphasis on employees wanting to learn more about people and cultures.

Is cross cultural training more important than it was 10 years ago?

Compared to 10 years ago, the leading countries in global connectivity have changed. Where the main connections were between Germany, UK, and US, there is now an increased emphasis on China, Singapore, and India. This change only furthers how small the world is becoming, creating connections further afield.

Cross-cultural training is more important than it was 10 years ago. Business relations strengthen when employees are trained to communicate effectively across cultures. This is particularly true following the last 16 months of pandemic.

COVID-19 has meant a more globalised approach to business is needed, bringing people together as everyone faces the same challenges and experiences. Businesses are connecting with more people abroad, made easy through virtual training and meetings. Every employee needs cultural training to be able to understand what is happening in different parts of the world.

How it can impact wellbeing

Cross-cultural training not only helps with the success of partnerships and deals for businesses, but it also improves employee wellbeing!

The relocation service Cartus said that 61% of failed assignments were unsuccessful because of family or personal issues. This highlights the importance of cross-cultural training on the wellbeing of employees.

Cultural training is rooted in supporting the happiness of employees through direct engagement and interactions with different people. It targets the three pillars of wellbeing, particularly the mental wellbeing of employees, providing a space for open communication. Take a deeper look into international employee benefits and wellbeing here.

Cross-cultural training for international businesses is a vital part of organisations and is only getting more important as the world is constantly and unpredictably changing. You can find more information of what else is involved in cross-cultural training here.

Contact us through Engage Health Group where we give free no-obligation advice and support and find out whether your cross-cultural training plan is up to date.
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Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor started at Engage in 2021, and is now a Digital Content Writer after studying BA English Literature at University of Sussex for the last 3 years.

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