Companies can find immense benefit in training their employees in foreign languages. Teaching employees foreign languages can help companies reach new markets, make employees feel more confident and business-savvy and expand a company’s access to other businesses. A company that learns to communicate in foreign languages can command greater respect from international businesses and local communities, can cover culture gaps and can form stronger relationships with companies in international markets.
Investing time and training into giving your employees better language skills helps make your business a more appealing option, gives you greater flexibility and allows you to expand your clientele through natural relationships and unhindered communication.
It makes employees more confident
Employees who learn a foreign language, particularly in a business context, feel more confident and capable in their work. 70 percent of employees who complete language training report feeling more confident in their interactions with teammates, vendors or clients. The benefit comes not just from learning another language, but from learning a language in a business context. The business-oriented language class, by translating concepts and terms for students, gives everyone a chance to refresh their knowledge of business, think of it in new ways (via the translated language) and come to an improved understanding about their expectations and capabilities.
Even employees who are mildly to moderately fluent in a language can see a confidence boost from a business-oriented language course, which can also cover topics such as cultural sensitivity and negotiating across borders. This is especially true for those running a more international workforce. If, for example, your employees are travelling to Vietnam, where they can get visa on arrival Vietnam, they will need to speak basic Vietnamese to get by. By giving your employees language training, you also leave them more prepared to individually communicate with foreign representatives, increasing the number of people you can delegate negotiations or conversations to. This makes employees feel more involved in international discussions and gives them greater confidence to take on projects and assignments with new markets.
It helps you work in international markets
Businesses that want to break into international markets must be able to communicate in the local language, not just competently but fluently. Your employees must be able to pick up and understand idioms and phrases, read the room and gauge customers’ reactions and desires based on how they communicate. This sort of comfort in communication will be required for things like interacting with customers one-on-one or developing marketing and advertising for the entire market.
Simply translating an advertisement into the right language may not be enough to save your company from a poor reception - many businesses have made embarrassing gaffes in translation efforts when attempting to break into a foreign market. Ford released the Ford Pinto into the Brazilian market to surprisingly poor reception. Eventually someone clued the team in that “Pinto” was a Brazilian slang word for a small penis, which was deterring customers. A good language training program will involve familiarizing employees with phrases, slang words and idioms to prevent such errors from occurring.
Investing in employee skills improves retention
Employees respond well to companies that invest time and effort into them. By taking the time to help your employees enhance a highly marketable skill, you ensure that your employee develops a greater sense of loyalty to the company. More than 80 percent of US employees consider professional development a key factor in job satisfaction, which means staff will almost universally respond positively to attempts to strengthen their skills.
By investing in your employees properly, you show that your business values its employees, and that your business would rather improve them than replace them. You will make employees feel more secure in their jobs, more loyal to your company and more invested in the development of the business. Employees with language training will be excited about opportunities to use their new skills in new markets and focus on ways to improve the business rather than ways to improve their own careers.
Language training provides your employees with valuable, marketable skills. It also equips your company with the necessary skills to succeed in foreign markets and attract a wide new array of customers. Companies willing to invest in language training your employees will see a significant return on their investment.