Here’s a story. It was the beginning of Q1, and all the employees of a global company gathered both in-person and virtually for an eagerly anticipated company-wide meeting. With offices spanning across the United States, Mexico, Japan, and India, it was a rare opportunity for everyone to connect from all corners of the world and exchange best practices and success stories. During the event, Senior Leaders and the CEO took the stage to present the company’s strategy for the year, including plans to expand their business in EMEA. After three hours of intense presentations (all in Business English), the leadership team agreed on some growth KPIs and a list of action points. Few questions were raised – notably, none from the local teams – and everyone left the meeting highly motivated to make things happen.
Fast forward two months into the year, and very little progress had actually been made on the strategy implementation, to the point it became uncertain the plan was clearly explained. Teams across regions barely communicated with each other – not to mention collaborating on the same project. In the end, a Board meeting was called to understand why the company’s plan is in stall. Does all this sound familiar?
What you just read is what happens when you have a global company, with a diverse and distributed workforce, and yet just one language is used to communicate. The result is low local engagement, decreased productivity, poor retention of both clients and employees and roadblocks on the expansion path. Craving to put a stop to this? Here are 4 reasons why your company should invest in multilingual meetings.
1. Improved Communication and Increased Employee Productivity
The first point on this list can be easily imagined: investing in a multilingual approach will improve internal communication in your company, ensuring messages are being conveyed accurately. As a Forbes Insights & Rosetta Stone study revealed, around 65% of Senior managers believe language barriers have a significant impact when managing a diverse workforce. Specifically:
By contrast, over 80% of executives disclosed how employees are more productive when allowed to communicate in their native language. Why that? Easy said: multilingualism is key to successfully engaging a diverse workforce, even more so when working in a remote or hybrid context. Having multilingual meetings can give your team the confidence they need to participate fully. Employees will feel their contributions are valued, and their productivity will increase.
2. Multilingualism is a Booster for Growth and Market Expansion
Beyond the positive effect on employees’ engagement and productivity, another aspect to note is how being able to communicate in more languages helps you build better trade relations, creating the opportunity for market expansion. Let’s look at some data reported by the World Economic Forum:
Research by The Economist as well highlighted how an overwhelming 90% of senior executives believe that improving cross-border communication would lead to an increase of profit, revenue and market, while almost two-thirds of respondents revealed how many potential business opportunities in foreign countries are missed due to the challenges posed by language differences.
Interestingly, linguistic diversity – or the lack thereof – poses a greater business challenge in certain regions, Latin America and southern Europe. A substantial proportion of respondents in Brazil and Spain – namely, 38% and 40% respectively – identified difficulties with communicating in non-native tongues as a key impediment to productive cross-border interactions.
3. Enhanced Customer Experience (and Better Brand Image)
If your company has a multilingual customer base, or is planning its expansion to different markets, offering support to your clients in their native tongue can make your customers feel more valued. The benefits are multiple, spanning from increased customer retention rates (70% of customers feel more loyal to companies that offer support in their native language) to revenue growth (76% of consumers have a preference for products that offer support in their native language).
This enhanced customer experience can hugely benefit your brand image, making the company more accessible and approachable to multilingual communities, giving you a clear advantage against your competitors. How? A staggering 35% of consumers declared they would switch to a different company/product, should support be offered in their mother tongue.
4. Going Multilingual Will Benefit Your Recruitment and L&D Strategy
As we have seen, globalization has brought businesses and markets closer together. The race for talent has expanded over geographical borders, and even more so now that companies are adopting remote-first settings for their operation. However, various studies have proved how, during the recruitment process, candidates who are non-native speakers are often rated lower compared to their native speakers’ counterparts, despite equivalent qualifications. As an effect, companies face a risk of missing out on talent.
On the contrary, a multilingual approach can hugely benefit your recruitment strategy, removing language biases in the hiring process, creating an inclusive environment, and boosting innovation and creativity within the organization.
A similar thing could be said about multilingual Learning & Development programs: to start, training employees in their mother tongue gives them a better understanding of the subject matter. Additionally, it instils a sense of value and investment from the company, leading to higher retention rates and reduced recruitment costs. Finally, as 25% of job-related accidents are due to language barriers (as estimated by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration), training employees in their native language will improve safety at work while decreasing the risk of litigations due to miscommunication.
Investing in Interpretation Services: What Are the Options?
The data points here discussed show how forward-looking companies who are working to expand their markets, improve efficiency, and enhance their customers’ loyalty, would highly benefit from embedding a multilingual approach that transcends language barriers into meeting, events, and trainings. So, what are the options?
Investing in language services to support multilingual meetings, town-halls, and training programs and events, is a cost-effective solution to avoid the expense of confusion and misunderstanding. It will protect you from legal and regulatory risks that may derive from miscommunications, and guarantee compliance with privacy and security requirements, as third-party service providers will be bound by confidentiality.
Technology has made huge leaps in making language and interpretation services accessible to everyone, in virtually any existing language. It won’t matter if your team is globally distributed – you can easily hire human interpreters who will connect through a Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) platform. Alternatively, and particularly if you are dealing with one-to-many occasions such as keynotes, L&D, or company-wide meetings, an AI Speech Translation Software can help. This second solution will have the key advantage of being available 24/7, at a lower price tag, and without requiring time to book and prepare interpreters.
If you need a hand selecting the most suitable option for your requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts – they’re happy to help!
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