Using English – the most popular language for business worldwide – as your lingua franca may seem like a great way to streamline processes and ease communications between employees. There are definitely some positives. But in many situations, you could be doing more harm than good. Our new eBook, Language Strategy: The Pros & Cons of an English-Only Workplace, goes into depth on this topic – including a relevant case study.
When one language is forced on an organization, a few things can happen:
Language becomes a blind spot: When a lingua franca is adopted, organizations think their language problems have been solved. After that, any other language discussion takes a backseat to other business concerns. The company ends up making themselves less competitive in new markets and ignoring potential skill deficits that exist among their employees.
Flexibility suffers: An English-only approach makes it more challenging to communicate with existing and potential customers. Even though they themselves may speak English, everyone’s comfort in a second language varies. Also, innovation is more likely in someone’s native language. This applies to working with clients to solve problems and improve processes, but it’s also the case internally among your employees.
Trust issues: The quickest way to someone’s heart and mind is through their native language. When trust flourishes, relationships grow. With employees, that trust can lead to better retention and engagement with your company. With customers and prospects, trust leads to sales.
Productivity: If everyone needs to modify their thoughts to fit the English lingua franca, that is time lost. Naturally, productivity suffers, especially when you factor in miscommunications and misunderstandings. Also, the majority of workplace accidents can be traced to a lack of communication, with many of those accidents due to language barriers.
These are just some of the points discussed in our new eBook. It goes into much greater depth and offers a wealth of takeaways that make it well worth your time.