Whether you’re searching for ways to reach out to untapped overseas markets, looking to encourage employees and increase productivity, or just want to offer a fun work perk, bringing language training to your office can have a huge upside.
Foreign language skills are vital to companies and corporations around the world. In 2010, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg challenged himself to learn Mandarin Chinese. He said he wanted to communicate better with individuals within the business world, but he also wanted to be able to communicate with his wife’s family, as this is their native tongue. Chances are throughout that year Zuckerberg began to see the world differently. Learning languages literally shifts the way your brain works – and all for the better. Indeed, making sure high-ranking executives have adequate foreign language skills on the global stage can aid in the building of bridges, and avoid burning them.
And the benefits aren’t just at the top of the corporate ladder. When employees receive language training, studies have shown they become more confident in their day to day work, fueling company productivity and improving the bottom line. But it’s not just about brain power and cognitive function. As individuals make their way through language learning, they will relate better, gain empathy and share an understanding with their fellow workers.
Client Satisfaction and Retention
Research shows that language learning doesn’t only benefit employees in hospitality, retail and communication industries. It’s also beneficial for employees in human resources, IT, and operations departments.
How so? Work hours can be wasted when there’s a language barrier, and whether it’s translation issues or simple miscommunications, these can jam up productivity. Not to mention, depending on how the situation is handled, problems like these can affect a customer’s perception of the company’s overall brand.
Of course, avoiding these blunders is any company’s best hope, but these kind of snafus can stem from a variety of situations – from employee to employee, from boss to employee, from boss to customer, from customer to employee, and vice versa. At the end of the day, language training can improve productivity, confidence, and overall performance, as everyone will be (literally) speaking the same language.
Another benefit: retention. By investing in them, employees will feel that the company has taken an interest in their own personal growth. They’re likely to repay this gift with loyalty to the company.
Knowing the local language of the population you’re doing business will make a difference. When you learn the language the locals speak on a day to day basis, you are working to bridge the gap yourself. Instead of expecting them to come to you, you’re letting them know that you not only respect them, but you’re willing to do the work to gain their trust. And since most countries have multiple languages and certainly specific dialects, understanding the nuances in tone, pronunciation and delivery can also be critical – especially when it comes to marketing and communicating your brand. For example, even within the English language there can be barriers that need to be addressed across countries. A campaign for warm jackets that uses the word “frigid” in the States would come across quite differently in the U.K.! If these nuances occur even within the same language, imagine what needs to be addressed across different languages.
It’s the companies that can quickly fix a miscommunication, error, or problem that arose within a transaction, that will retain customers in the long run, helping them operate at the top of the success ladder.
Having considered all the possible benefits of encouraging foreign language learning in your workplace, have you checked out Fluent City’s lesson plans? We pride ourselves on a conversational approach, which focuses on teaching you what you actually need to know to better communicate with others. Check them out here.