More than ever before, businesses are operating globally. The pandemic may have put a certain halt on travels and many international exchanges, but interactions still happen digitally. Yet, it’s not just poor sound quality or a botched email that can turn communication sour – sometimes, it comes down to the language itself. Actually, 25% of US businesses report losing a prospective opportunity over the singular lack of foreign language skills.
There’s no wonder that employers are showing an ever-growing demand for multilingual employees. In a globalized world, knowing a foreign language opens the door to new opportunities and better communication – and workplace training is one of the best ways to achieve that.
Benjamin Franklin once said that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest. So, how does this manifest when it comes to offering foreign language training to your team?
Point 1: New opportunities – without limitations
In today’s world, there’s a need for employees to develop an international understanding and an unprecedented level of cooperation. Offering language training means equipping your workforce with the tools they need to navigate complex business challenges. It’s a proven fact that knowing another language boosts an individual’s cognitive capacity, but the impacts it has on employees’ performance are much more wide-ranging.
Whether it’s Mandarin or Spanish, having team members that can carry out business conversations in another language can bring you new opportunities in markets previously inaccessible. Even as a small business, speaking another language can help you build a connection with a new segment and cultivate closer relationships. Ultimately, foreign languages become the basis of your global mobility strategy.
Point 2: More comprehensive skill sets
Other than the improved bottom line, the process of training and mastering a language brings stronger relationships. Externally, this means more efficient interactions: If your team member can approach a client in their native language, they inherently inspire more empathy and trust. Internal teams, on the other hand, can connect better and engage in new ways. Research shows that 70% of employees feel more confident in their work and interaction with teams, partners, and vendors upon successfully completing language training.
At the same time, learning a language helps eliminate bias and drive better team dynamics. Since implementing workforce language training in 2014, Trivago, a global hospitality service, has seen great value both in the acquired knowledge itself and the effect it had on strengthening the company’s melting pot culture. Ultimately, this can help prevent conflict and give employees a united platform.
Point 3: Engaged and motivated workforce
According to Gallup’s 2017 report, 85% of employees are not engaged or even actively disengaged at work. While there are diverse reasons for this, other research shows that 74% of people feel they aren’t achieving their full potential at work due to the lack of development opportunities.
By actively encouraging your team to learn new skills, they can stay more engaged and motivated. This will also boost job satisfaction, as it allows you to show you care about your employees and are making tangible investments in their development. Ultimately, this helps lower employee turnover and drive overall performance. Simply put, offering language training is a potent way of cultivating an environment of learning – something your team will greatly appreciate.
It’s time employers stopped seeing offering language training as a mere benefit to their workforce. In fact, it can be a key differentiator that employees will both appreciate while becoming happier and better at their everyday tasks at the same time.
Eric Schurke is the CEO North America at VoiceNation-Moneypenny.
Foreign language stock photo by pathdoc/Shutterstock