As the workforce continues to diversify and the drive for business globalization continues, cultural competence is arguably one of the most essential aspects in any modern workspace.
The ability to interact with people from different cultures depends on one’s worldview, knowledge of other cultures, and attitude towards cultural differences. It is through the skill of cultural competence that teams learn to better communicate and interact with each other, regardless of their varying beliefs and cultures.
Working in a multicultural company can be a challenge, but overcoming those hurdles with training can benefit not only the company’s productivity rates but also improve mental health and career satisfaction in employees.
Why Is Cultural Competence Advantageous in the Workplace?
Our world and workplaces are diverse, and as our means of communication and collaboration in workplaces evolve, the importance of cultural competence grows ever more critical. The ability to respect, collaborate, and effectively communicate with a diverse workforce is crucial in any company for increasing efficiency and productivity.
The benefits of a culturally competent workforce are abundant, but some of the main advantages include:
- More ideas – When a multicultural team works together, more perspectives and ideas are presented. When you have more ideas, it’s easier to find solutions to challenges that require unique problem-solving abilities.
- Increased appreciation for different perspectives – Culturally competent employees tend to respect others’ views and perspectives more easily. This can also help improve performance on an individual and team level.
- More empathy and adaptability – Adaptive and empathic employees are more productive personally and tend to work together more harmoniously in team scenarios.
- Deeper listening – Clear communication and active listening are two cornerstones of cultural competence. When employees have these skills, they’re more willing to listen to what others have to say and understand their views.
How Companies Can Improve Cultural Competence in the Workplace
The first step toward implementing or improving cultural competence in the workplace is to assess the current situation and identify the skills, knowledge, and resources that you can build on. Here are some tips that can help you develop a plan for improving cultural competence within your teams:
Train Teams for Global Citizenship
It is essential to build cultural knowledge within teams and educate them on different cultural practices. Globalization training should be framed to educate employees on how to interact with the increasingly diverse global society and economy. Companies that do a great deal of business in certain countries can consider formal training from a professional that has worked in that country. Training should encompass communication, negotiation skills, marketing, and business etiquette.
Focus on Good Communication Skills
Excellent communication skills are critical when dealing with a variety of cultures. Verbal and non-verbal communication can be a deal-breaker when interacting with others. Even if employees don’t all speak the same language, they can still be effective communicators if they have a thorough understanding of the other person’s culture.
Celebrate Traditions Across All Cultures
Cultural literacy, awareness, and acceptance can all be increased in the workplace when you celebrate diversity. Showing employees that all cultures and traditions are recognized and accepted is a great way to improve cultural competence. When employees are introduced to diverse traditions, it increases their sensitivity to cultural differences and makes them more accepting of these factors.
Create Employee Affinity Groups
Creating opportunities for employees to connect, network, and share common ground outside of the workplace encourages the development of stronger connections. When employees feel like they belong, they’ll be more likely to invest more of their time and effort into their jobs. Affinity groups can help employees connect and celebrate their differences while also creating organization-wide communication.
Set Goals and Request Feedback
Companies are responsible for promoting diversity within their workforces, which means KPIs for diversity and inclusion success need to be part of the plan right from the start. Goals might include hosting a certain number of cultural events per year, starting employee affinity groups, or improving employee satisfaction metrics by X amount per year. Ask for honest feedback and suggestions from your employees and find ways to implement their ideas in your plan. The aim of improving cultural competence is inclusion, and the more employees feel heard and valued as part of the evolution process, the more engagement companies will see.
Cultural competence isn’t a skill that can be mastered and ticked off a list. It’s a continual process that requires staying up to date with trends and regularly hosting training sessions. Cultural competency can benefit companies in many ways, including better employee retention rates and the ability to attract top talent to your teams.
Here at Day Translations, we know just how challenging it can be to work in a multicultural company. Still, by continually working on our company-wide cultural competence levels, we know what it takes to bridge the gap between different cultures and traditions.