The Business Case for Corporate Language Learning (A Study of the Evidence)
A 2017 Deloitte report concluded that organisational success within a company is dependent on scalable learning rather than scalable efficiency. These findings suggest that communication skills play a huge role in the scalability of the company. A company who we successfully provided Spanish lessons in Leeds for, confirmed this. This article will take a look at the business case for corporate learning and review the relevant evidence.
Most companies would benefit immensely from a language strategy, and it is a shame that many companies are completely unaware that they need one in the first place. The world is becoming increasingly globalised and the importance of international workforces will only grow. If you want to future proof your business and give it the potential for long term growth, it is vital to have a language strategy in place. However, the context of globalisation is not the only reason to invest in a language strategy: there is a significant business case to be made for this type of investment, and we explore it below.
A significant case study conducted by Harvard looked at the language strategy employed by IBM. The company had looked at eight languages aside from English and gave them priority. IBM is a global company and therefore international assignments are to be expected. They place high value on language learning and these international assignments. This leads to employees who are motivated to learn languages rather than feeling like they are forced to. When learning Spanish, they were able to avoid falling into the common traps and avoid the myths surrounding learning Spanish.
IBM provides valuable language training for their employees to ensure that they can conduct themselves professionally in that language. For example, for their workforce engaged with Spain and latin America, following training on how to actually sound more like a Spanish native speaker allowed communication to flow much more freely. Their language programmes are just as accessible as their other training programmes. This high consideration given to languages has produced an international oriented culture within the company and has created high calibre multilingual employees who will lead their business forward into an ever increasingly multinational future. IBM has undoubtedly succeeded by treating language learning seriously and providing their employees all the tools to become proficient. IBM set forth a strong business case for embedding a corporate language learning strategy into your business: it creates employees equipped with the right levels of proficiency to take on tomorrow’s challenges while also motivating them.
Businesses rely on clients, and the quality of these relationships contributes to the eventual success of a business. Moore Blatch is a solicitors who have seen tremendous success in creating a corporate language learning strategy. The partner, Ciaran McCabe had this to say, “Many businesses will rely on the help of translators, but we have found that investing in a dedicated service has led to stronger relationships with clients – so much so that the majority of work the firm receives under this service is through personal recommendations.”
This is a powerful statement, and it just underlines how language learning can ramp up your relationship with clients which in turn leads to better brand loyalty. If your business is focused on delivering quality and trying to maximise satisfaction for the client, then a corporate language learning strategy should be a top priority. There are costs involved, and this will be pretty significant in the initial phases, but a language learning strategy has the potential for enormous long-term dividends as highlighted by these two examples.
There are so many translation tools available online that it may seem like a luxury to invest in a corporate language learning strategy. However, from the evidence obtained it is clear there are significant benefits available to your company once it adopts a language strategy. There are fundamental business reasons for making this investment and, after reading this article, you should have a far better idea of what they are.
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A polyglot and international traveller. Anthony speaks 6 languages and loves sharing his passion of language learning through his writing.
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