1. Valuable hours lost from miscommunication
In a workplace where there is a language barrier, extra time and energy is spent on interpreting what exactly is going on before one can tackle the actual task at hand. This means hours are spent deciphering emails, important documents and searching for the right words to communicate one’s needs and challenges. It is a constant state of confusion and running to catch up with everyone else.
There is also the time lost from miscommunication between coworkers and the resulting backlog or slowing of progress because the channel of communication is ineffective. A survey by Siemens Communication and SIS International Research estimated that 17.5 hours of productivity are lost each week per employee as a result of communication issues for small and medium-sized companies. This causes an undesirable ripple effect which includes delays and extra costs, all of which will cost more than the language training you should have invested in.
2. Lack of assimilation into a new culture
It is also essential not to take social aspects of an international assignment for granted. One should hope that their employee successfully assimilates into their newfound home, especially if they have moved with their family. Their mental state is vital to their ability to complete their job effectively and discomfort in a new environment can act as an obstacle to doing so. This is made more severe for employees who have moved to countries such as Japan that are radically different from the American culture they are accustomed to.
Aside from language, guidance on culture and society are a large benefit to employees before they embark on an international move. This could include polite gestures and functional know-hows like understanding documentation requirements, registering their children for school and finding a new house/apartment. This guidance helps to alleviate much of the overwhelming tension that comes with understanding a different environment and helps your employees to feel supported and able to better concentrate on achieving the task they set out to accomplish. The quicker they assimilate into this new environment, the more capable they will be at achieving success for the company.
3. Loss of Talent
Talent, like time, is a loss that one cannot exactly regain. Each person is unique when it comes to the potential of their ideas and thoughts which is what makes employees valuable for the success of any company. This potential, however, remains untapped if the employee lacks confidence in communicating their ideas in the working language. Not only do they lose out on opportunities to climb the company ladder and be seen as a leader, but the employer loses out on taking full advantage of what you expect from the employee.
A study conducted by IBM showed that employees are 12 times more likely to leave the company if they feel unsatisfied with their development there. This also extends to how well employees fit in with the company culture. Employees are happier when they can comfortably communicate with each other. With a language barrier, employees can feel isolated and unable to build trust and understanding with their coworkers. They are then bound to feel unhappy and feel more inclined to leave the company. Since replacing someone can result in 30% of the position’s salary, it would be worthwhile to save yourself the hassle by investing in language training and increasing your employee retention rate.
4. Unequal Division of Responsibilities
Let’s say you have tasks that need to be completed in English but only 2 people on your staff of 30 people can speak it proficiently. This means these two persons are the only ones that can complete the job or act as interpreters for their fellow coworkers who are unable to communicate through emails, phone calls and meetings. This takes time away from their principal tasks and can result in a decrease of productivity. The reliance of projects on a select number of persons can result in inefficiency and delays. Language training can ensure that everyone has a level playing field and excels at tasks regardless of the working language instead of solely relying on one of the few advanced/fluent speakers in the department.
Talk to us at Fluency Corp, so we can help put your organization on the path to a successful language training experience!