Multilingual workers in all industries tend to earn more than their monolingual counterparts. For some multilingual professionals, their proficiency in multiple languages is one among many qualifications that make them ideal for leadership positions. To some, being multilingual helps them stand out in the international job market, giving them the possibility of working remotely for reputable foreign companies. For some, being multilingual can be vital for them to become global thought leaders in their field.
But what benefits do multilingual individuals bring to the organizations that employ them? Why do they reach higher than their peers? And how could multilingual employees drive growth at your company?
In this article, we’ll take a look at five reasons why hiring multilingual talent can be one of the best decisions your business has ever made.
They welcome new perspectives
Whether your bilingual candidates were born and raised abroad, or they became multilingual in adulthood, they’re very likely to have a broader worldview than their monolingual counterparts. Why?
Learning a language is also about immersing oneself in another culture. This immersion helps language learners acquire something called “cultural awareness.” Cultural awareness is the capacity to put oneself in other people’s shoes. Cultural awareness is about being able to ask yourself what it feels like being someone else, and understand how someone can have values, priorities and preferences that differ from one’s own.
They’re highly creative
Cultural awareness doesn’t just make us more empathetic and understanding. It also nourishes creativity, since it encourages the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that characterizes outstanding creative work.
They’re key to expanding your company internationally
Expanding your brand globally is a very local process. You need to know which markets to expand to and how. You need to know your competitors, your potential partners and your customers. You need to know their preferences and their culture.
During negotiations, a multilingual professional can connect with your potential partners on a deeper level than your usual representatives, who might need to study the local business culture before meeting stakeholders and might need to have their meetings mediated by business interpreting services.
They’ll make your brand look local
One of the worst things that can happen to a foreign brand that’s just entered a new market is looking like a tourist. You want your brand to feel close to your audience and become a household name. You want customers to feel as if the brand had grown from the ground up in their locale and is here to stay.
Having multilingual workers in charge of your expansion efforts can help you stand out from your competitors. It’s worth taking a closer look at the importance that multilingual (and multicultural) workers have for an expanding business.
When you’re expanding to a certain locale, counting on employees from that region can ensure insider insight into your new customers’ culture and preferences. This insider knowledge can translate into great customer service. If you’ll provide customer service in house, instead of outsourcing it, providing customers culturally sensitive assistance in their own language can make a world of difference.
On the other hand, when multilingual professionals with deep intercultural knowledge are in charge of marketing, they can craft effective campaigns that come across as fresh and innovative.
They can make your culture better
Much like businesses thriving today are born-digital businesses (businesses that have technology at the core of their value proposition), experts often say that the winning businesses of tomorrow are born global. Born-global businesses are often defined as “business organizations that, from inception, seek to derive significant competitive advantage from the use of resources and the sale of outputs in multiple countries.”
A born-global business needs a global, inclusive business culture that can make the most out of diverse points of view, needs and values. A multilingual and multicultural workforce can make this possible, fostering a culture of aligned objectives, tolerance, mutual growth and open exchange within diversity.
What you shouldn’t expect from multilingual employees
While multilingual employees can help your business communicate with foreign stakeholders, craft unbelievable marketing campaigns and play a key role in driving growth, it’s worth understanding the limitations that multilingual employees might have.
For instance, it’s wrong to assume that a multilingual person is necessarily a translator. Translation and interpreting require a whole set of skills aside from proficiency in a foreign language. Someone becomes an interpreter or translator after years of specific training and has to abide by a professional code of accountability and fidelity to the source material.
While a multilingual marketing manager might be able to produce a great localized version of a marketing email, it’s wrong to ask that employee to translate legal, technical or similarly sensitive documents. And any mistakes they made could be very costly for your business. So it’s best to leave that sort of task in the hands of a specialist at a reputable translation company.
Hiring multilingual workers can help your company expand internationally, bring new perspectives to the table and foster a culture of inclusion.
When you’re expanding your brand abroad, being represented by someone who speaks your target region’s language can make a world of difference, making your brand feel local, welcoming and willing to make the changes necessary to fit in.
On the other hand, multilingual customer service representatives can give your business a competitive edge in foreign regions where customer service is rarely provided by highly-trained locals.
Multilingual professionals particularly succeed in leadership positions since their intercultural training equipped them with versatility, creativity and a worldview that welcomes diversity. But they can also succeed in performing the most demanding tasks within their field.
Remember, while a multilingual worker may be highly performing within their field, they may not be properly trained to meet all of your business’s linguistic needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional linguist for legal or technical translations.