All over Europe, thousands of colleagues are discussing company developments at their European Works Council. While our specialist interpreting teams keep up with technology and terminology, participants need to keep up with trends and training to maximize the effectiveness of their EWC.
A European Works Council is a valuable way for senior management and employee representatives to consult on major developments. This interaction though requires considerable investment including venue hire, travel expenses, interpreters and time spent away from normal operations. It makes sense to ensure both the management team and the employee representatives are equipped to make the most of their meetings. Indeed the EWC directive itself indicates members have the right to receive training and expert advice to help them carry out their work and ensure that consultation is effective and efficient.
Lisa Wilson, an Interpreting Manager at RWS Language Solutions comments, “Currently we are seeing a strong trend for companies to offer additional training around their current EWC meeting, typically adding on an extra day at the start or end of the existing event. It works well as the interpreting team know the delegates and company terminology and all the technical equipment is already on-site, a considerable saving on the costs of an additional meeting. We can also translate any documentation alongside the main meeting presentations allowing clients to benefit from volume discounts using our specialist translation software. We hear very positive feedback from the delegates who appreciate this training; this is good for everyone involved as it makes processes more effective.”
Philip Sack, Director of ProVizon, a provider of bespoke EWC training, has been advising companies on this area since 2005 and recommends, “An agreed training programme should cover the areas appropriate to each individual European Works Council and those needs will change over time. It’s important to work with your chosen trainer to design a highly interactive programme so that participants find it interesting and stimulating, and can put into practice what they are learning.”
Training might cover a number of areas – a newly created European Works Council or an existing EWC with several newly elected representatives may need instruction on the purpose of the EWC; the roles of the employee chair, select committee and individual representatives and how they carry these out effectively. Additional background training might include looking in detail at the timings and information needed for the information and consultation process including the use of expert advisers or the legal background to the EWC directive, national legislation or their own EWC agreement.
Training might be around practical points about how to conduct a meeting well. A well-organized meeting will see the chair of the employee representatives come to the meeting with a prepared agenda, which gives time to allow all countries to talk about developments and raise questions. This is then used to create a summary of points and questions for management who in turn need to allocate time to consider the points raised and come back with meaningful responses and actions. Following on from the meeting, participants need to know how to handle confidential information and how to make the most of reporting back to employees and local works councils to raise awareness and interest amongst the wider workforce.
Training might also include updates for example changes to the EWC brought about by corporate restructuring or how the meeting might be affected by politico-economic factors for instance the implications of Brexit for EWCs and for UK representatives.
Since the establishment of the EU’s European Works Councils directive, over one thousand EWCs have been created. Twenty thousand people are directly involved in actively contributing to them while millions more are involved in receiving news from the colleagues who represent them. Given the numbers involved, investment in training is essential to ensure that company developments are negotiated effectively and communicated clearly.
Conducting clinical audits can present a number of communication challenges. Auditors often travel considerable distances to verify research; the last thing they need is to be unable to speak to clinical staff or verify scientific data. Here are our top tips to ensure successful communications.
1) Start planning early
Having spent years developing pharmaceutical research, an audit shouldn’t fail because people can’t understand each other. Remember no matter how ground breaking your product is or how efficient your work processes are, if your auditors cannot fully understand the data, it will be harder for them to make their assessment.
To ensure the best outcome, you need to employ specialist interpreters. Clinical trials are very specific assignments often including a combination of spoken questions and hours of checking through trial data in an intense atmosphere. You really need to hire an interpreter who knows both your industry and the audit process. It goes without saying, these high calibre interpreters get booked up quickly, so make sure to secure your booking well in advance.
If you location is relatively remote, plan even earlier. While it can be relatively easy to find interpreters in any national capital, there are fewer in smaller towns and cities. Furthermore, if you have a multi-site audit and want the same interpreter with you throughout, they need to be able to book out their schedule well in advance.
2) Set a realistic budget
Make sure you budget for all costs including interpreting, overtime for any work outside normal business hours, travel, accommodation and subsistence. If your auditors are going to split meetings or different sites, you will need a team of interpreters to cover each concurrent project.
A professional interpreter will not be cheap but they will provide value by helping you fulfil your audit process. Optimise your budget by planning early and making savings on travel and accommodation. Early planning also means that you have a better chance of finding a local interpreter rather than having to source from further afield at greater cost.
3) Think about what you need them to do
If you work in partnership with your chosen interpreters, they will be an invaluable part of the team during the audit process – often pre-empting challenges and creating a time efficient process.
Think carefully in advance about where you will need assistance as you will often have multiple demands. For example, Source Data Verification needs to check the data presented in case reports to ensure it is complete, accurate and valid. As well as conveying questions and answers between the auditors and the research teams, you will probably need help with on-site translation of written materials such as test results or patient notes.
4) Think about the practicalities
Briefing the interpreter as much as possible will make sure that everyone gets the best out of the assignment. The highly technical subjects involved have specialist terms and acronyms, so help your interpreter prepare by providing as much background information as possible about the trial. You may also want to consider a short briefing by telephone before the actual start date as well as building in time on the first morning to go over the key points and aims of the visit. Interpreters appreciate the confidential nature of your information and will be happy to sign any NDAs required.
If you have a site where safety equipment is required, check in advance whether the interpreter has safety shoes and clothing or whether you need to make these available.
Interpreting is an incredibly demanding job, so factor in regular breaks throughout the day, a decent place to stay and time on at least some of the evenings to take a break from the project. A well-rested and properly prepared interpreter will offer better quality and more consistent interpreting.
5) Consult an expert
Finding the right interpreter or team of interpreters is critical but also a time consuming process. Delegating to an expert can save time and money and allow you to concentrate on the audit process rather than finding suitable interpreters, verifying their references and work permits and negotiating terms.
At RWS Language Solutions, we work daily with interpreters across Europe, Russia, the US and Asia. We understand the questions to ask and the pitfalls to avoid. In addition, we can provide accurate costings, arrange travel and accommodation, prepare and brief the interpreters in advance of each site visit and review their performance afterwards.
During a recent project, we led a series of source data verification audits across 19 sites in Russia and Eastern Europe delivering the selection, planning and logistics for the whole team of interpreters to time and on budget.
We have spent many years building up our extensive experience and network of resources, so do feel free to contact us, we are happy to share this knowledge.
As we look back on a most eventful 2015 we are truly encouraged by the growth of the languages services market.
A recent survey of its members by the Association of Translation Companies concluded that the UK market for language service requirements is in excess of one billion pounds a year making it one of the largest users of language services alongside Japan, Germany and the US.
This is reinforced by a report from Common Sense Advisory which showed that the worldwide market for outsourced language services and supporting technology is $38.16 billion and growing at an annual rate of 6.46%.
So, it has been a spectacular year for RWS Alnwick and the wider company.
There were two stand-out moments that we will remember for a long time.
In November we carried off the Golden Bridge Trade & Export Awards 2015.
The awards are an initiative of the Belgium Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium to celebrate the very best of Benelux and British business.
In winning the medium-sized company category, judges were highly impressed by our approach to developing the Benelux market and the level of business generated.
Hearty congratulations to my colleagues Ester Stevers and Dave Van Looy who worked so hard on our award entry and presentation to the judges.
In May we celebrated our place on the international stage as RWS gained the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – for the fifth time – the UK’s highest accolade for business success.
The awards are made annually by HM The Queen and are only given for the highest levels of excellence.
So, it has been a truly memorable year and we look forward with great anticipation to further success for in 2016 and, most of all, to assisting our clients fulfil their own goals and ambitions.
Resource Manager, Janine Dunn, discusses the team’s dedication to quality management systems
Having worked at RWS Alnwick for 18 years, I have witnessed firsthand how we have developed a team that prioritises providing excellent quality of service. Consequently, I’m delighted to share the news that we have, once again, met the highest industry standard for quality and retained our ISO9001 accreditation.
This is a certified quality management system (QMS) which allows us to show our ability to consistently provide products and services that meet the needs of their customers.
Every three years our accreditation is reassessed and we are measured on five key areas of the business: facilities, people, training, services and equipment. I am a member of the internal audit team and we are ever vigilant to ensure that all quality procedures are aligned with these five areas, not just in the run up to the audit but as a matter of routine.
For example, we use our monthly internal meetings to report on how our procedures are running and to relay important customer feedback to the team. It’s a great opportunity to make staff aware of positive comments and also to discuss different ways we can do things.
The period leading up to the assessment necessitates additional work but it’s definitely worth it as the long-term benefit is that we increase customer satisfaction levels and improve productivity. We also believe the fact that we actively look to achieve ISO9001 without contractual obligation, underlines our commitment to quality.
By maintaining and following the ISO accreditation we are developing a system that works effectively for us so that we can come together as a team and share best practices.
A big well done to all involved in ensuring that our accreditation has been reissued!
Although we are currently thinking of summer holidays, before we know it, conference season will be upon us and it will be time to plan the next European Works Council.
A well thought out meeting venue will ensure not only that your discussions run smoothly but that your delegates enjoy the event and take away a positive image of the company. As Interpreting Projects Managers we have worked in a huge variety of venues across Europe, some excellent and some with challenges. Here are our top tips when considering a venue for your EWC:
1. Firstly, consider the geographical location. Is the venue easily accessible by public transport from all the participating countries? Increasingly, we are seeing companies are choosing to hold their meetings in hotels near a major airport so that delegates can arrive directly at the meeting and avoid long and costly journeys into city centres. For more local delegates, these hotels can often also provide reasonably priced parking.
Another solution clients are increasingly investigating is using their own meeting rooms; as an added bonus it means that attendees from other countries can see facilities and meet the wider team in the host country. Unlike hotels though, these building are not purpose built for large meetings so it’s even more important to check that it’s suitable for purpose. A good venue should certainly be able to offer you a site visit and/or detailed floorplans. Make sure these clearly show fire escapes, pillars etc so there are no surprises on the day.
2. Once you’ve decided on the city, you need to look at how practical the venues on your short- list are. Remember the larger the meeting the more time and space you will need. Is there enough room to fit all your booths and set the room up for participants in your preferred style? Can all the booths clearly view the presenters and participants?
Large meetings require a lot of technical kit so make sure when you are booking the room that there is adequate time to build up and test all the booths prior to the start of the meeting and there is sufficient time to de-rig before the next event. For large meetings you may well need to book the room for the day or evening before which has implications for your budget. It’s also worth checking you have exclusive use of the room, if the hotel books out the ballroom you are using for another evening event, you don’t want to have to take down and build up the booths each day. It’s possible but it will add extra expense.
Talking of practicalities, you also need to make sure there is an adequate loading bay. Remember to double check any time restrictions, some cities only allow unloading at certain times of the day. If the room is not on the ground floor, is there a suitable service lift.
3. Finally you might just want to check on any extras, for instance does the meeting room provide screens, projectors, wi-fi, sound system. Are they extra or included in the price? Is there enough accommodation at or near the venue? If you have a formal dinner is there a nice restaurant on-site or within reasonable distance?
If this is all sounding a bit much, remember a good project manager will be happy to help and act as a liaison between your venue and the interpreting and technical teams. Although many companies organise an EWC once a year, we are doing it every week so we are used to planning in advance and spotting any potential hiccups!
Here, we look at the Top 5 ways in which our translation and interpreting solutions support the manufacturing industry
Developing a global strategy
There are at least 4 dimensions to being a global company; globalisation of market presence, supply chain, capital base and the corporate mind set.
In recent years, the manufacturing industry has seen rising production growth on a global scale, covering multiple countries, locations and languages. With instant communications across the world, it would be easy to assume nations and peoples are becoming more alike. However, access to multilingual revenue streams and global brand recognition require a consistent and focused multilingual communication strategy. If you cannot communicate with your investors, customers, partners, staff and suppliers, you will miss out on opportunities.
Eclipse offers a fully managed service to global companies that are faced with an increasing content volume in a growing number of languages. We work in over 150 languages, including all the major world languages and we allow the capability to communicate to the whole business in a timely and effective manner.
Meeting regulatory requirements and making safety everyone’s business
Manufacturing companies must keep up with international and local regulatory requirements in all markets. Accurate translation helps to ensure staff understand safety concerns.
Communications around employment and other crucial issues are translated correctly to ensure manufacturing and logistics site colleagues work safely.
We translate documents for on-boarding and induction of new colleagues (contracts of employment, policies, induction training and tests), training materials and business communications. We also provide telephone interpreting and face-to-face interpreting solutions to complex matters between a company and colleagues where the language level is not at a sufficient level for accurate understanding.
Driving workforce engagement
In the UK only an estimated 16% of employees are engaged. Increased digitisation of instructions leads to the use of more illustrations and animations; and also more videos, less documents. We have seen a substantial increase in the use of video communication for storytelling and capturing leads. Video is also a powerful tool in typical HR areas such as new employee training and professional development.
Leveraging of your investment in video communications to overcome language barriers and reach a broader audience. Only 6% of people in the world speak English as a first language after all.
Better understanding and higher engagement. Customisation of content via translation, localisation and the consideration of cultural nuances tailors the communication specifically for the target audience, enhancing the viewer’s experience and understanding considerably.
Implementing Lean processes
Quality and consistency are essential in the global manufacturing industry. But it is also true that businesses win by changing faster than everybody else!
We pride ourselves on the calibre and professionalism of our translators, editors and proof-readers. This is a prerequisite as manufacturing documents are full of industry-specific terms, and the content must comply with international and local standards and regulations. Translation memory tools and terminology management allow us to enhance consistency and overall quality of content, achieve faster turnarounds and decrease translation budgets as it recognises repeat content that has been translated previously, ensuring only the new parts of a document have to be charged at the full rate.
An important milestone for a global market launch is the availability of technical documentation and marketing materials in the requisite languages. Agile translation management can significantly reduce the Time-To-Market. Besides the faster turnaround of translations, flexible translation management opens up additional time frames for implementing quality assurance measures such as in-country reviews or preliminary preparation of terminology.
Supporting Industry 4.0
The internet of things, big data and augmented reality require intelligent communication across multiple languages. Industry 4.0 is part of a bigger digital transformation. Increasingly, we are working with clients on delivering these transformation projects by localising global software systems (e.g SAP, Oracle and Workday), training materials and global compliance activities.
Through the application of industry best practices and using our ability to leverage economies of scale, we create efficiencies in deploying advanced technologies, including encrypted portal solutions, video and telephone interpreting facilities, translation TM and client review functionality.
These technologies are deployed with the aim of increasing productivity and defending against cyberattacks through enhanced security of data and intellectual property.
Over the last 60 years, we have developed our language solutions and specialist knowledge to meet fully the needs of all of our customers. This means fully understanding the needs of the different departments within a company.
Should we approach translation of a German technical specification in the same way as translating a website or subtitling an e-learning package? The answer of course is no.
Understanding what impact a customer needs from our language service shapes the workflows we apply, the technology we use, the linguist teams we select and the technical experience we need to bring to customer projects. It certainly makes our work interesting, no two days are the same which is one of the main reasons we enjoy working with our customers!
Within the same company, the corporate communications team may need our expertise in localising employee messages to support a restructure, our experience in subtitling for webcasts or on-site and remote interpreting for training. At the same time, we may also be helping its legal department to protect its intellectual property or working with the HR team to manage global compliance issues.
Our culture then has to be to work as a partner – developing an understanding of our clients’ needs and style means we almost become an in-house department reacting quickly and finding the right solution. We understand we are a key part of an increasingly global supply chain and that the right result if is only possible when you can successfully work together as a team.
Taking our work in the chemical sector for example, from R&D through to product commercialisation and support, we help customers manage regulatory compliance and drive efficiency or transformation across international sites. At any one time we may have PhD chemists to ensure accurate translation of complex chemical specification and a range of legal, financial and communications specialists working on internal and external communications. Alongside these translators, our specialist interpreters also have a role to play assisting with tender presentations, site audits and conferences.
So if you were to ask us how we translate German? We would say it depends on what you need the translation to do for you.
With the official Brexit negotiations underway, it’s a good time to look at the potential impact of the process on European Works Councils (EWCs).
EWCs were created to bring together the employees of large companies operating in a pan-European capacity. The meetings are an opportunity for employees to share concerns with management and receive updates on company developments and strategy. The Directive concerned 2009/38/EC, says any company with more than 1000 employees in the EEA, and at least 150 of them in two member states should establish a European Works Council. Consequently, when the UK leaves the EU, the dynamics of many of these EWCs will be affected.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has emphasised that concerns such as citizens’ rights should be prioritised so it may be some way down the line before we have more clarity on the future of EWCs. In the meantime, the management teams which organise the meetings, the employees who attend them and the interpreters who facilitate their discussions are all wondering what the outcome will be. The Unite union who has many members involved in EWCs has already held a conference dedicated to this issue.
Philip Sack, Director of European Employers Group has been advising companies on setting up and running European Works Councils and UK Information & Consultation arrangements since 2005. Given his unrivalled expertise on the legislative issues and contacts with EWC organisers, he is the ideal person to comment on the implications of Brexit.
In his view, post-Brexit, EWC legislation is unlikely to apply to the UK and this will have implications on works councils based throughout Europe namely:
whether there is a continuing obligation to have a European Works Council
the position of UK representatives on a European Works Council
possible redistribution of seats on the EWC
whether the governing law of the EWC will change.
Those most closely involved think that the UK government will find it difficult if not impossible to maintain the bulk of this unique legislation. However, for companies whose employee numbers are still above the threshold outlined – even without their UK colleagues – will still need to have an EWC agreement, so companies who have filed their agreement under UK law will need to take action. Agreements can be filed in any EU member state where the company has a presence, so they will need to be transferred, given the similarities in legal system; it seems that many will look to re-file in Ireland. Furthermore, Unite, General Secretary Len McCluskey has argued in favour of finding a solution where UK workers can still have a right to participate in EWCs after the UK exits from the EU. It would certainly be strange to have a situation where some employees may not be able to participate in a council where company strategy is discussed.
For companies where the UK’s withdrawal means they will fall below this threshold, there are perhaps employee relations and practical rather than legal questions on whether to continue. Given the value that the meetings hold for employees and managers to meet and share ideas, Mr Sack believes the likelihood is that many companies will continue to hold their annual or even bi-annual meetings. There is also the practical advantage that if a company subsequently expands in Europe and hits the employee threshold again in the future, there is no need to start from scratch with setting up the works council.
There may be a need to re-allocate the number and allocation of seats but although the UK representatives would not be required to attend, it is still possible with some minor re-wording of the agreement that they can participate as invited guests, or even as full members. Managers are less affected and can be invited from whoever countries are relevant as may guest speakers and industry experts. As the day-to-day operational team tends to be from management side, people are unlikely to want disruption and many will continue to operate in their existing systems.
In conclusion, while there may be some legislative issues, on the ground there is hope that should they choose to do so colleagues across Europe and the UK will be able to continue to communicate with each other for many years to come.