Successfully Launching Intercultural Competence Training with E-Learning

Develop content in various formats to cater to your learners’ preferred way of consuming information—i.e., videos, games, readings, podcasts, Webinars, etc.

More and more employers are recognizing the business case for diversity and inclusion. It’s far more common in today’s labor market to see organizations investing capital in learning and development programs to nurture leaders to become culturally competent. Inclusive leaders are important because they encourage employees to successfully operate within a multicultural workplace setting. Research shows that organizations that celebrate and welcome differences in culture and thought lead their sector in innovation, productivity, and ultimately, revenue.

Delivering intercultural competence training can be a challenge for employers because they may not have the expertise, budget, or capacity to create training from scratch. But thanks to modern learning technology and analytics tools, it has become more effective and sustainable to get started. If you want to disseminate information efficiently to a workforce and bring about meaningful culture change, e-learning is a good way to do it.

If you’re considering implementing a fail-proof, online intercultural competence training, here are a few strategies to consider.

1. Find a linkage between learning and business goals.

Before rolling out an organization-wide intercultural training, think strategically about what your goals are and how you’ll measure success. Although it’s difficult to put a hard number on an individual or a team’s intercultural competence, it’s proven that when everyone in the workplace feels a strong sense of inclusion and are highly engaged, their performance improves, which leads to better business outcomes. Think about the bottom line, employee retention rates, cost of onboarding, the level of employee engagement, and the level of customer satisfaction. These are all measurable. Make sure to align your learning goals with these business key performance indicators (KPIs).

2. Be versatile, engaging, and user-friendly.

E-learning’s greatest advantage is its versatility. A crash course on a complex topic like workplace inclusion is often insufficient to get to the bottom of the issues. An all-day lecture on cognitive biases and human history will only scratch the surface of the issues and will only leave your learners overwhelmed and confused with information overload. One way to avoid this is to break down topics into smaller chunks and diversify the channels for distributing them. 

Think outside the box and develop content in various formats to cater to your learners’ preferred way of consuming information—i.e., videos, games, readings, podcasts, Webinars, etc. The good news is that you don’t have to create everything from scratch. You can adapt content readily available in the market developed by industry experts.

3. Look for evidence!

Changing the culture of a workplace is a slow and subtle process. Besides the business KPIs mentioned above, there are useful metrics that tell you how successful your training effort is. Modern learning technologies offer accurate reporting and analytics capabilities that makes it easier to track and measure the impact of learning. Make sure you monitor how actively engaged your learners are and how well the learning content is received by them beyond tracking pass or fail. For example, identify the most and least popular content, time spent on each content, incomplete or abandoned progresses—these analytics are useful for helping you understand what content speaks to your audience, and identify where the gaps are. This will help you determine what to do differently in the next round of training, whether it means content revision or technology enhancement.

Re-Examine Training Practices

Training is proven to be most effective when it is done purposefully and consistently. Any organization that is serious about building an inclusive workplace should regularly examine its training practices and methods so employees are set up for success. E-learning is something you should consider to help you achieve your diversity and inclusion goals.

Jihyun Jeong, CHRL, is manager of online learning programs at the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). She developed and oversees She is responsible for developing a variety of online learning content and learning pathways to help organizations create more inclusive workplaces. 


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