Educating and Engaging Employees in Life Sciences Organizations

Educating and Engaging Employees in Life Sciences Organizations

Professional development and employee engagement are inextricably linked to greater organizational performance. Yet, recent research suggests that engagement continues to be a challenge:

A 2017 Gallup Report notes, “The global aggregate from Gallup data collected in 2014, 2015 and 2016 across 155 countries indicates that just 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their job.”[1]

Employees who understand the company’s goals and mission have a purpose. Employees who understand compliance constraints can proactively work toward minimizing risks. And employees who understand how their contributions impact team objectives have a greater sense of achievement. All of these benefits rely on a strong employee training program.

For human resources teams in the life sciences industry, this means that employee engagement is not just a buzzword.  It is a critical means to an end. Training and professional development content that nurtures employee engagement is essential to success. In life sciences companies, typical training programs may include the following:

  • Essential corporate compliance programs including topics such as Good Clinical, Laboratory, and Manufacturing Practices (GCP, GLP and GMP), FDA Audits, and Computer Validation
  • Policy training such as corporate diversity, employment, and sexual harassment
  • Business training such as drug development or US and EU regulatory approval processes

Click here to learn about our Learning and Development Solutions for the Life Sciences.

Each of these topics has specific and often highly technical terminology that can be tricky to articulate. Human resources teams who support global organizations carry the additional burden of ensuring that the content is not only easily consumed but also understood. Regional cultural differences, numerous languages and dialects, and the accessibility of content for disabled workers must all be considered when educational materials are designed and communicated. As companies experience rapid growth, their human resources teams are pulled in multiple directions and are often unable to create or maintain culturally adapted content.

Pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and contract research organizations (CROs) face many risks. Safety is usually at the top of the list. In their article, Engaged Workplaces are Safer for Employees, Brandon Rigon, and Bailey Nelson note:

“Cultures in which employees are engaged in their work are safer places to work. Gallup’s 2016 meta-analysis study — which examined more than 82,000 business units and 1.8 million employees in 230 organizations, across 49 industries and in 73 countries — shows that business units with engagement scores in the top quartile of Gallup’s employee engagement database have 70% fewer safety incidents compared with bottom-quartile units.”

Education has long been seen as an important way to retain employees. However, the quality of education as it relates to engagement is not always measured. Removing cultural barriers and localizing content raises the bar above simply maintaining compliance. By engaging teams with localized educational content, companies can improve learning outcomes and allow team members to focus on creativity and problem solving, thus adding fuel to the company’s strategic efforts. These professional development opportunities also help workers to feel valued and respected while illustrating the company’s commitment to every team member, regardless of location or ability.

Developing a Translation Strategy

A multinational workforce will gain significant benefits from translated and localized educational materials. Human resources professionals who are responsible for educational or e-learning programs should consider incorporating translation and localization strategies in their planning, design, and development of new content. An inventory of planned content is a good starting point. As a course outline is developed and supporting video, text or audio is planned, the team can track and manage each piece as it is developed, approved, translated and localized.

It is also important to determine what language translations will be required to support employees. If budgets are tight, priorities can be determined based on the number of employees impacted in a given region, deployment schedules and even available local alternatives. (Is a local trainer available on site?)

Once the plan is formulated, individual content pieces can be assessed for localization. The effectiveness of language translations can be increased significantly when combined with localized examples and supporting scenarios. This step typically requires a solid understanding of language differences as well as an appreciation for cultural nuances. A mistake may lead to misunderstandings and has the potential to offend or frustrate a segment of your audience. Alternatively, a well-executed, localized training program provides a common foundation for global teams and can reinforce your organization’s culture, values, and goals.

This is also where the accessibility of the content should be considered. Is adaptation required to support team members with disabilities (audio transcription, Braille etc.)? If any are required, they should be tracked and managed in the same manner translations and localizations are handled. By including translation, localization, and adaptation in the program development plan, you are investing in employee engagement and distinguishing it as a priority for your organization.

Our Learning and Development Solutions for the Life Sciences.

Learning in Life Sciences

Global life sciences teams benefit from a well-trained workforce. As training topics expand beyond traditional corporate policies, they simultaneously support professional development and employee retention. Learning about regulatory submissions, clinical data standards or quality management helps employees understand their own contributions in a much larger context. Training on computer system validation helps employees avoid unnecessary risks within their digital work environments. Courses that introduce new tools and technologies help employees automate and streamline traditional manual processes and ensure greater quality – whether the end product is clinical trial data, a standard operating procedure (SOP) or draft labeling for an investigational product.

Partnering for Success

Translation, localization and adaptation strategies will improve engagement and overall effectiveness of training content. However, most teams don’t have the internal expertise to support these efforts. Competitive life sciences organizations focus internal resources on developing core content and choose SDL as their translation partner. We work with sponsors and CROs to design, develop and implement training content for global audiences. We can work with any authoring tool file format, including SCORM, HTML 5 and video, across all eLearning content development stages. We work directly with your teams or agencies to ensure that your content is localization ready and culturally appropriate, reducing compliance risks. Our translators bring life sciences, human resources, and training design and development experience to our customer’s translation projects.

SDL offers 25+ years of experience. We can offer multilingual typesetting, content adaptation and image adaptation for offline channels and connectors to content and learning management systems (CMS & LMS), automated content implementation and interactive components for online channels. We also have complete video and audio capabilities including subtitling, voiceovers, on-screen text, transcription, video conversion & re-shooting.

Contact SDL to learn how we can help you optimize your training content for global teams and get the most from your training budget – all while investing in your greatest assets, your team.




[1] State of the Global Workplace, p.22, Gallup Press, New York, NY