How Bilingual And Multilingual Staff Can Benefit Your Business

‘Globalisation’ is a term often used when it comes to the success and failure of business. Communicating on a global level has never been easier with video calls – and online companies offering free and specialised business services for such calls – social media, email. Then there are networking events and exhibitions and, of course, there are the improvements in travel connections so that those all important face to face meetings can take place that can help to cement those international business relationships.

Globalisation is not necessarily just about doing business at an international level, with businesses based in other countries. The UK population is made up of people from all walks life, people from various countries and cultures, people from countries where different languages are spoken. Those people could be a part of your team, helping your business succeed – and they could also be your customers.

And globalisation also means that lots of people have chosen to learn another language other than their native language either at school, university or at night school or other education centre. Are you making use of these people to benefit the future of your business?

Who are the school leavers, students and graduates who are either bilingual or multilingual?

  • They could be those who have moved to the UK from a country where the native language is one other than English.
  • They might be people born in the UK but with parents who moved to the UK from a country where the native language is one other than English. In case one and two, your candidate is highly likely to be fluent in English as well as their parents’ native language.
  • They might be a student or postgraduate working and studying in the UK. This person is fluent in English but has spent most of their life in their native country, speaking their native language. Perhaps they learned English in school or in higher education.
  • They might be native English speakers, born in the UK, but have studied a foreign language to a particular level. Especially at degree level, your candidate will have also spent time in a country where this language is spoken. This was probably in a workplace environment.
  • Your candidate could be someone who has travelled or visited a particular country numerous times and has decided to learn the language.

Those are just a few of the bilingual or multilingual young people you could be interviewing for your roles. There are lots of reasons why people learn and speak more than one language. And there are also many ways in which the employment of those bilingual young people can benefit your company. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits:

  1. Bilingual people can be more confident in dealing with clients, customers and other professionals in other countries.

Depending on the nature of your business, you might be dealing with clients, customers and fellow professionals in other countries. If you have employed a student or graduate who speaks the language of that country, you will be able to deal with those people on a deeper level because your member of staff can speak with those people with confidence. This can help to cement business relationships and perhaps give you the edge over any competition.

  1. Bilingual and multilingual staff can reach a more diverse audience or customer base for your business.

As we know, the UK has a multicultural population with people from all walks of life. Knowledge of more than one language is more than just the ability to read, write, speak and listen to that language. Often, this knowledge is also paired with a knowledge of the customs and culture of the country where that language is native.

Your bilingual or multilingual staff can help you tap into a more diverse customer base by connecting with people in the UK who might not otherwise have been aware of your products or services perhaps because of language barriers or because they feel that what you are offering doesn’t relate to them. Your bilingual staff could help you access these markets through both language and targeted marketing or advertising.

  1. Employing bilingual staff could be cost effective for you.

Employing bilingual staff means, when you are doing business with with companies in other countries or with people who speak a language other than English, you won’t need to pay for an outside translator.

Whilst bilingual and multilingual staff can often command a slightly higher salary as a result of their skills, the financial benefits for your company that will come as a result of their ability to communicate with businesses around the world should exceed this. These staff can also accompany you or represent your company at overseas meetings, they can assist you with video calls and talk you through written communications.

  1. Bilingual and multilingual staff can build up customer confidence and help you remain competitive.

As well as your customer service and the quality of the products and services you sell, your company can also gain a reputation by employing bilingual and multilingual staff. This can help you build customer confidence, trust and loyalty both internationally and locally, depending on the nature of your business.

Locally, for example, if the nature of your business is dealing with people for medical issues or community work, having a member of staff on your team who can speak to users of your service in their native language can prove to be a real benefit. Those using your services can have their minds put at ease and this can build trust and loyalty. Those people are more likely to become repeat customers.

  1. Listening and communication skills are said to be strong in bilingual people.

Any Google search on the benefits of being bilingual will throw up various studies carried out by researchers from all over the world.

One benefit for your company of employing bilingual people lies not just in that person’s ability to speak a language other than their native tongue. Because they can do this, it is said that their general listening and communication skills are strengthened.

Excellent communication skills are often asked for in job ads when companies are recruiting new staff. As an employer, you are going to be looking for someone who can communicate with other staff, team members and customers at a high level. And someone who can listen to and take on board what customers and other businesses are looking for can really benefit your company. Those with the ability to speak more than one language can often demonstrate these skills.

  1. Bilingual people are said to be good at switching between tasks quickly and also multi-tasking.

Other studies of bilingual people have shown that they can benefit your workplace because they can be good for your productivity. Studies have shown that because bilingual and multilingual people can switch between different languages, their brain has become wired in such a way as to help them to do this quickly.

Away from languages, your bilingual and multilingual employees can therefore switch between different tasks really easily and efficiently and they are also good at multitasking.

If the role you are offering is in a high pressured situation or it requires someone who needs to be able to keep on top of running multiple projects at once, a person who can speak more than one language could really benefit your company.

  1. Being bilingual or multilingual is good for mental health.

This article states that research carried out by scientists at the Universite de Montreal revealed that bilingual and multilingual people are able to save brain power. So, how could this benefit your workplace?

Being able to save brain power means that bilingual and multilingual people can process information more efficiently. The study revealed that when given a task to complete, the brains of the people who could speak more than one language could quickly filter out the unnecessary information that could delay completion of a task.

I have written in the past about the challenges of keeping staff motivated and productivity at a high level. Having bilingual and multilingual staff who can really drill down to the important parts of task completion can boost productivity in the workplace.

  1. Bilingual and multilingual employees can be a boost for the rest of your staff.

Why stop at employing one or two people who can speak more than one language? Having multilingual school leavers, students and graduates around in the workplace could pique the interest of other staff members and they, too, could be motivated to go out there and learn a language. If it is to the benefit of your company, investing in your staff by actively encouraging them and paying for courses or offering information about free online courses can boost morale and productivity.

If your multilingual and bilingual staff members are originally from another country or have family from another country then this boosts diversity in your workplace. This can help to break down any possible barriers that may exist and staff can learn from each other about different language and culture. This could be especially useful if you are doing business with a country where that language is spoken. If staff have some awareness of that country’s work culture, as well as language, then it can help your business to cement international relationships.

  1. Bilingual and multilingual staff can help your your online presence.

Whether you employ staff for the direct purpose of SEO work, writing of web content or social media, or you are an SME where your staff share a variety of roles, employing a bilingual or multilingual member of staff can really benefit your online presence.

Whether it’s school leavers, students or graduates, young people with the ability to speak more than one language can work on a section of your website, translating it into a target language. This can help you reach a whole new customer base and make your services more accessible. If you have a live chat facility on your company website, having someone available who can speak that language can offer instant communication and answers for potential customers.

Because your bilingual staff will likely have a certain level of awareness of the culture of the country they could also give you some tips for SEO. Using their native language, which words are people likely to search for in Google when looking for products and services that are offered by your company? This knowledge can be used to set up ad campaigns with Google or other search engines.

Likewise, with social media, tweeting and doing Facebook updates in another language can reach new audiences and also build up communication and loyalty with them.

Does Your Company Already Benefit From Bilingual And Multilingual Staff?

If you already employ multilingual or bilingual staff in your workplace what are the ways the workplace is seeing the benefits? Perhaps you have other innovative ways of making the most of these skills in your staff.

If you are currently looking to recruit young people to your company, bilingual or not, why not place your job ad with us at E4S and reach your target audience. Diversity in the workplace can be a great benefit but, if you are recruiting, be sure to keep your interview questions legal.