The business world is in a continuous development. Businesses are evolving and activating in a diversified environment that doesn’t respect physical boundaries anymore. Even more, due to accelerated globalization, we now live in a world where any type of business has the possibility to extend over borders. This made language proficiency a very important business skill that will boost anyone’s career.
However, in English-speaking countries, this essential business skill is quite scarce. Also, business managers just start to understand the impact it can have on their business. To put things into perspective, let’s see how important language proficiency can be for your business.
Market Share and Sales.
Did you know that there is a deficit of people speaking a second language in countries like the US and the UK? According to The Guardian, the UK lost 48bn pounds in 2013 alone because of the deficit of multilingual people. Even more, in the US, only 18% of the population was able to speak a second language, according to Forbes (data valid for 2012).
The data presented above only shows a harsh reality: English is no longer the universal business language. And this is not good news if we consider the fact that the best business opportunities are with fast-growing markets from developing countries. This means getting in touch with possible business partners that don’t speak English and don’t have the same business culture as Western countries.
If you want to increase the market share and sales, a team of multilingual people is the best solution. Such people will be able to talk with business partners, convince them your business is powerful and deserves attention. Even more, they will know how to address and attract more attention towards your products or services.
Just like with any business, the key to success is with happy clients. Now, in order to keep them happy, you must understand their needs. For this, you need to understand their culture and how they relate to your products/services.
One of the ways you can show customers you care is by offering them support in their native tongue. This, of course, implies hiring local people for customer service positions. But the process doesn’t end here! You will also have to train these people to communicate effectively with English speaking people. You may even need to share with them useful English grammar tips to interact with native English speakers. This is necessary in order to maintain an open communication at the company level.
As you can see, language proficiency is a two-way street: you need multilingual people who also speak English. This will improve the level of communication inside and outside the company.
Diversity & inclusion.
People from different cultures are different and it’s a manager’s job to create the perfect work environment. This can be a bit difficult, but it can also be empowering for both the manager and the employees. By dealing with diversity you are disrupted from the daily business routine.
As a manager, you will get to learn more about business etiquette in your employees’ countries. Also, employees will learn that being different is a good thing and they will be more open to communication and solving conflicts without negative consequences.
A business that promotes diversity and respect towards each other’s culture will definitely thrive in foreign markets.
Promote a safe work environment.
If you hire local employees, you will have to be able to explain work safety measures. This is of utmost importance because all people must understand the procedures. If the communication is not clear the result could be injuries or worst so it’s your duty as the manager of the team to make sure everyone understands what you’re saying.
Finding the real talents.
Once you overpass the physical barriers of your country, you also step into a new world with endless possibilities. As a hiring manager, you will have access to talents from all over the world. This motivates people into being more efficient and increases the level of professionalism.
If you manage to attract the best towards your company, your global value will increase. This also means better contracts, more business opportunities, and overall increased profit.
Better prepared expats.
When a company wants to develop on a foreign market, it will first send the best managers to start the process. These people will be relocated and they will live in the targeted area for as long as necessary to get things going. However, many managers have to deal with language barriers that make the process more difficult.
By hiring people who are already proficient in a second language and training them to become future managers, you will remove this issue. This leads to a smoother penetration process in foreign markets.
In the end, we can see why multilingual people are such a big deal these days. Even more, it’s clear why big companies invest so much in having people prepared for globalization. Any developing company will definitely benefit from having a well-prepared, diverse team who knows how to handle language and cultural barriers.