by Rilind Elezaj
Plenty of companies provide industry training for new recruits, support continuing education for certified professionals, and offer programs like cultural sensitivity courses to their staff. This kind of learning is an investment in the company’s human resources. It makes employees more valuable, and operations more positive and productive.
More and more businesses, especially those moving into international markets, are also helping their employees learn a second language. But even small local businesses and startups can benefit from folding multilingual skills into the workplace. Why? The benefits are myriad.
Learning a new language physically changes the brain. Studies have shown that learning a second language increases your cognitive abilities with problem solving, unlocks wells of creative potential, and makes you more tolerant and confident.
A survey by the Economist of 572 global executives showed that 67 percent said “the multicultural nature of cross-border teams within the company increases innovation.” Innovation at every level may be the single most important key to your company’s success, so this alone makes it worthwhile for you to invest in your team’s language learning skills.
Learning a new language alters your behavior and beliefs as well. That’s because it forces you to think outside of the box. Language systems reflect cultural values and perspectives. A second language may reflect a dramatically different perspective from that with which we were raised. Exposing yourself to multiple languages truly opens the mind. And the ability to think outside the box translates directly into greater creative power for your team.
Bilingual people are more tolerant and culturally sensitive than the monolingual. A team of polyglots will naturally create a more culturally rich environment. This is a strong asset in building company culture, maintaining employee retention, and standing out as an inclusive, globally minded workplace.
Language skills are a confidence booster. Confident, empowered employees don’t just get the job done, they take greater initiative. That means your team is more supportive of company goals, more energized, and ready to launch forward without you having to shoulder so much of the workload.
So a team of polyglots is pretty much a superhuman force of power and productivity. Bonus! That’s a major internal benefit to your company. But what about externally? How does having multiple languages represented in your workplace translate to the bottom line?
An understanding of multiple languages gives you access to new markets, markets that may be out of reach to your competitors. You can tap your company’s full potential all over the globe if you are unrestricted by language barriers.
Customers feel more valued when you speak their language--literally and figuratively! When you localize your website, app, or marketing material, you aren’t just translating words. You’re translating from one cultural context to another.
Greater reach in global markets and wider customer appeal naturally translate into increased sales and revenue. This one goes without saying, but it’s worth saying--because that’s why you’re in business, right?
There are whole networks of potential partners and clients inaccessible to English-only companies. Consider the value of connecting with networks that use Mandarin, French, German, or Hindi as their primary language instead of English! These too are international languages with millions of speakers all over the world.
Adding languages makes employees smarter, and it makes your brand sharper. If you want to appear as a sophisticated, international player in your niche, language learning should be priority one. You can expect to get more respect, and to rise into an echelon of internationally minded organizations operating at an entirely different level than the monolingual leagues.
It doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling. If you haven’t already, start by learning a second language yourself. Many of the world’s great entrepreneurs are bilingual. Incentivize language learning for your staff, starting with your team leaders. Sponsor classes, or have company contests to see who can gain fluency the fastest. Participate in multilingual community events, like international festivals, to bring a multicultural edge to your public image.
For the most part, when people start learning a language they don’t want to stop. It’s a fun process that poses tremendous rewards, both on an individual level for your staff members, and for your company as a whole. The world is globalizing. It’s time to jump in and make language a company priority today!
Rilind Elezaj is a Content Writer and Marketing Specialist at translation services provider, Day Translations. With a Bachelor in Computer Sciences and Engineering, Rilind has a passion for everything tech! When he's not at work, you can find him out in the wilderness, appreciating the wonder of nature.
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