Language as your business driver

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Written by Armin Hopp on 23 September 2015

This 26th September marks the 14th annual European Day of Languages. As part of this day, 800 million Europeans across all member states are encouraged to learn more languages – at any age, in or out of school. I want to take this opportunity to revisit what makes languages so crucial for organisations, and why those with a global communication strategy will go further than the rest.

No matter how large or small an organisation, whether it works online or offline, its employees will have to deal with a different culture or language at some point. This could be colleagues from abroad who haven’t fully mastered the local language yet, as well as partners, suppliers or customers in another country. Such encounters can be highly rewarding as they offer insights into a different culture and perspective. However, they also leave much room for misunderstandings. Do you know how to greet someone senior from Japan without insulting them? How do Brazilians prefer to be addressed in an email? And what was that Spanish false friend you definitely had to avoid when speaking?

A flexible world of learning

The good news is that organisations can train their staff to deal with these issues more effectively on a daily basis as training doesn’t need to take place in formal classrooms anymore. With the rise of cloud-based mobile learning solutions, languages and cultural concepts can be studied on a mobile phone, tablet or PC, be it at home, at work or while travelling. For HR and L&D managers, cloud-based learning means having standardised and measurable results across all borders. Our research shows that this kind of training will save costs compared to conventional classroom training, and people remember the content better because they can access it on their mobile devices at any time. Long-term, this will also help to get a better grasp of an internal talent pool, identify skill gaps and fill them with the appropriate training.

Speaking your language

It’s no secret that learning a foreign language will also boost your communication skills. Good communications create a positive working environment, reduce errors and misunderstandings and accelerate processes as a result. As we know, quicker processes mean lower costs and better business. Ties with external partners or clients will be strengthened if they feel an organisation really speaks their language and has made an effort to take a step in their direction. This will give multilingual organisations a real competitive advantage as they will become the first port of call for their customers. We just can’t expect everyone to speak fluent English anymore.

So if you’re in charge of talent management in your organisation, I invite you to think about your language strategy because in the long-term, it will benefit your business strategy. Get an online language training solution in place with a renowned provider, encourage business conversations in a foreign language and allow employees to spend some time on business abroad to boost their skills. Not only will this make communication more fluid and drive results, it will also motivate your workforce and give them a reason to stay.

About the Author

Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx