The classic example of multilingualism in business is the road warrior, the go-to employee that is sent to establish offices in far-flung places and open emerging markets for the business. Although that employee still exists, in today’s multinational economy the need for multilingual employees is far greater than just your expatriates.
Fewer and fewer companies can survive operating only in the American market. If they haven’t already, they will soon realize that the path to revenue growth lies overseas. That might mean establishing offices in emerging markets, onboarding employees from other lands, or simply finding new sources of materials.
What all of these strategic endeavors have in common is the fact that your English-speaking employees will be challenged in communicating with their new partners unless they have the proper language skills.
Realizing this, executives are investing in the people and training required in this new multinational economy. Because they realize that going multinational means also going multilingual.
Last year, we commissioned a survey of 500 executives of companies with more than 500 employees. The results have been made available in a forthcoming infographic entitled Business Value in Language, including:
- 87% of respondents said their business relies on more than one critical language
- A majority of companies said they need two or more languages
- 76% of staff in the business and professional services field need at least intermediate skills in another language. In IT, 73%. In financial services, also 73%
- 79% of respondents said multilingual employees improve customer relations. 72% said they increase opportunities in sales. 68% said that productivity improves
These figures can be extrapolated to mean that the vast majority of companies—many of which are leaders in their particular verticals—have seen benefits in having multilingual employees. If they aren’t currently reaping those rewards, they see the need to bolster their employees’ language skills in order to compete.
To see more results of the survey, check back to the blog next week when we will release the Business Value in Language infographic.