Most people underestimate how hard it is to translate corporate communication. When you’re sending internal documents back and forth to employees, you’re not just sharing instructions and information—you’re also communicating the company’s culture. The verbiage, tone, and length of these messages will all affect how your workers perceive your organization. When the content is successfully interpreted, it can foster productivity. When it’s not, it can create uncertainty and even disengage employees.
The human resources (HR) department will generally set the tone for all corporate communications—from international employee training to general messages and information. Due to its importance and sensitivity, HR must be just as mindful of their tone or language (if not more so) as someone in marketing. Translating this content is often difficult because nuances become lost during the conversion process. Through careful selection of the right translation platform, you can control the tone across multiple languages without losing the corporate culture you’ve worked so hard to build.
Understanding Nuances in Translating Corporate Communication
In the English language alone, there are many nuances to terms that are recognized as synonyms. Consider how some organizations phrase ending an employee’s contract. Some may call it “getting fired”; others may say they “terminated them,” “let them go,” or their job was “made redundant.” All these expressions mean the same thing—the employee no longer works for the company—but each of those phrases communicates a different connotation.
“Getting fired” is aggressive. “Terminating” or “being made redundant” is less so, but it also comes across as cold and calculating. “Let go” is perhaps the friendliest term, but it’s a bit passive. How HR phrases such announcements will need to be carefully curated in a way that remains consistent with company culture.
Considering how complicated the nuances associated with the English language are, imagine how much more complex it gets as new languages and cultures enter the mix. Those cultures will have their own way of phrasing certain actions or items. In Brazil, saying a worker was “let go” would imply they were turned off—like a machine. In China, the equivalent of someone being laid off is “xiagang,” which directly translates to the employee being “off the post.”
Translating these phrases directly without understanding the nuances behind them would be confusing and misleading. That’s why, when HR needs to translate corporate communication, they need a system in place that expresses the culture of the company, not just the words.
Managing Cultural Concerns in Corporate Translation
Corporate culture is one of the most significant assets or liabilities of an organization. It resonates throughout the entire business and impacts every single person from C-level executives to part-time workers. Most companies work hard at establishing and maintaining their culture, but then sadly lose a lot of the foundational messaging in their corporate communication during the translation process. Not to mention that most critical business announcements, such as those regarding CEO or upper management changes, safety issues, or restructuring, need to be disseminated quickly, so the time to translate is limited to a narrow window.
A reliable localization management platform ensures these communications stay true to the company credo by offering:
- Clear expertise: The linguists hired to translate corporate content need to fully grasp the company’s language and culture so they can align their jobs to meet those standards and ensure consistent communication.
- Comprehensive terminology management: A company’s preferences need to be traceable in order to align each message. A strong translation memory that takes into account previous jobs and changes made can help manage correct terminology. This should be leveraged along with a computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool for translators, providing suggested changes as they work through the content.
- Rapid turnaround: A transparent process is needed to ensure prompt translation jobs. Having to hire new linguists, submit job orders, and wait for completion per every single announcement is time-consuming and inefficient. An effective platform will provide a way to send jobs with the click of a button and get automatic approval on tasks below a certain dollar threshold. It will also automatically assign those jobs to linguists based on their prior success, proficiency, and expertise. This method supports the rapid turnaround needed for managing corporate communications.
- Transparent workflows: The ability to track translators’ jobs creates the transparency needed to complete projects in the most efficient way possible. A seamless workflow helps firms eliminate mistakes and locate bottlenecks that may slow down the process.
- Substantial security: Corporate communication is often sensitive. To ensure these documents remain confidential, it’s crucial to store them in an encrypted platform that limits downloadable data to authorized users.
When you translate corporate communication, you need to be able to accurately convey both the message and company culture through words. That’s why it’s so critical to work with a platform that employs translators well-versed in the importance of company culture. Through a successful partnership, you can eliminate misunderstandings caused by translation errors and ensure your organization is as transparent as possible with your internal staff.