In an increasingly multicultural America, a bilingual/multilingual employee can be an invaluable addition to your workforce. People who speak more than one language often have impressive communication skills and may have traveled the world and been exposed to different cultures! On top of that, hiring bi/multilingual employees is something many of your competitors are likely doing. A 2017 study by the New American Economy (NAE) shows that the demand for people who speak multiple languages has more than doubled since the 1980’s – especially in industries which require a lot of human interaction. Here are four reasons why you, too, should diversify your workplace and recruit people who speak more than one language:
The Demand for a Multilingual Workforce is Increasing
According to the (MPI) Migration Policy Institute, the United States has around 64 million people who speak a language other than English at home. Multi-lingual citizens and visitors have brought with them an influx of languages that have bled into every part of American society — from the home, to schools, to businesses, and more. That means there are a lot of people who would prefer interacting/doing business with companies that speak their language. In fact, the MPI finds that Asian-Americans are on track to hold approximately $1 trillion buying power by 2018. That translates to a lot of business opportunities for those who can tap into the linguistic needs of the Asian-American market!
Reaching International Markets is Easier
Bi/multi-lingual employees can be valuable resources when you’re targeting regions outside the US. This is especially true in the case of international employees. Employees who have grown up speaking more than one language understand the communication barrier that occurs when two different cultures/languages interact with each other. They can be an invaluable resource when handling linguistically/culturally sensitive operations. Interactions with foreign clients will go smoother if you can tap into a bilingual employee’s expertise in the specific language or culture required.
Customer Service is More Holistic
Employees speaking more than one language can be more confident in dealing with customers and clients who speak their language. In fact, you’re more likely to give better customer service to non-English speaking clients if their communication is channeled through an employee who speaks their language. Service chats online, calls over the phone, and in-person interactions can be more successful if your bi/multi-lingual employee is able to establish a comfortable, familiar atmosphere for them. Furthermore, bi/multi-lingual employees can also be more empathetic. They are effective in monitoring a culturally diverse environment, and they can easily pick up social cues to switch languages and often know relatable topics to discuss, all of which unilingual employees are less capable of.
[Related: How to Recruit Informed Candidates at Scale]
Bi/Multi-lingual Employees Foster a Diverse Environment and Inspire Innovation
Teams with multi-cultural backgrounds, especially in a creative environment, can be a treasure trove of new and unique ideas. For example: for an art installation project or a marketing campaign, a team comprised of employees having backgrounds from different countries/continents can pitch ideas drawn from their unique, individual cultural experiences! Similarly, the portfolio of your company’s work can be diversified by taking on entirely culturally new projects that appeal to more than one section of your target demographics. Your staff is more likely to be innovative and broaden their horizons when in the company of a more diverse group.
Samantha Keefe is the Marketing Manager at Language Connections. Language Connections has nearly 3 decades of experience as a full-range language service provider (including translation, interpretation, and language training). The company is headquartered in Boston, MA, with offices around the world.