It’s Not Just Translating that Makes Multilingual Employees So Valuable

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Jun 21, 2019

Available access to the internet and the modern ease of travel are contributing to the concept of a shrinking world. It’s now much easier to stay connected with people all over the globe and because of this even smaller companies are doing business internationally.

This increase in trade and business travel among countries is leading to an increased need for language and cultural diversity . Diversity is fast becoming one of the secrets to success for companies, and multilingual employees play an important role in achieving this.

Multilingual speakers will help you better accommodate all your customers. They can help with communication and offer a better understanding of different cultures. Building successful international relationships is becoming increasingly valuable, and having a multilingual workforce will provide better communication, marketing, and brand image.

Keith McNiven, Founder of Right Path Fitness talked with us at TollFreeForwarding of his own experience as a business owner in London:

“At Right Path Fitness we are just in the process of opening our first private studio on Liverpool Road in London. We have been extremely lucky to find a new receptionist who speaks Spanish, English, and Romanian. Having multilingual staff means we are better able to cater to the huge diversity that London offers.”

Successfully broadening a target market opens a business up to new opportunities for growth.

Language as a barrier to growth

If companies want to find success in foreign markets – or in domestic markets with a concentration of foreign-speakers — they can’t afford to let language become a barrier. To deliver first class pitches and meetings with potential clients, employees who speak their language as their primary dialect can make a crucial difference. As well as being able to successfully do business in different markets, they also have a good understanding of culture and etiquette.

Kalina Halatcheva, managing director at nouri, emphasizes the importance of leaving a lasting impression on clients in a new market:

“Face-to-face contact will never diminish in importance. You may write a business email or message in English, but the meaningful way you can connect to another person in the local language can never be substituted.”

Understanding different cultures

Hiring multilingual employees and having a diverse workforce not only helps you communicate and better understand your target market and the cultural differences, these workers can also save you from social faux pas. KFC’s campaign in China in the 1980s provides a good example. They launched with their well know slogan “Finger-lickin’ good,” which they accidentally translated as “Eat your fingers off.”

In another example, when Branff Airlines translated its “Fly in leather” campaign to the Latino market, it correctly said “en cuero.” In print that was fine, but the pronunciation in TV and radio ads sounded just like “en cueros,” which, as an idiom, across as “Fly naked.”

Marketing blunders such as these can be very costly for businesses. Multilingual employees will not only help you avoid these, but they will also help design your campaigns to gain positive engagement from particular markets.

Nedelina Payaneva calls on her own experience as a digital marketing specialist at Asian Absolute, highlighting the value multilingual employees can have when trying to understand different cultures:

“Those who have grown up speaking two or more languages understand how complicated communication between two cultures can be, including knowing which areas require sensitivity and which call for being stern.

“When it comes to generating content that is consumer-facing, multilingual employees can help pinpoint which regions are more likely to interact with geotargeted posts and graphics.”

Making sure that everything is translated correctly and remains sensitive towards different people and their culture makes up the foundations of a successful international campaign.

Multi-skilled workforce

Learning and speaking multiple languages brings a further list of soft skills that can benefit a business. Bilingual speakers are adaptable, have increased mental flexibility and are more capable of learning a third language.

Adds Nedelina Payaneya, “Bilingual employees often bring new perspectives and strong problem-solving skills. They tend to possess excellent communication skills and a great understanding of other cultures. In an increasingly globalized world, they truly are an essential component of business growth and expansion.”