December 24, 2017
Although our client base consists of businesses and individuals throughout the U.S. and around the world, most of our clientele and recipients of our weekly newsletter reside in South Florida and Las Vegas. We all know the influence of the Spanish language in Miami-Dade and Broward County (Fort Lauderdale) in Florida, and with 29% of the population in Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas) being Hispanic, we must ask the all-important question, “Does Your Business Need to be Bilingual to Survive?”
Considering that several members of our staff speak Spanish, we launched a Spanish language Website last year, and offer our Newsletter in Spanish, you can pretty much conclude what our take is.
But we recognize that every industry is different and while having bilingual employees may not be absolutely necessary, if you have the right bilingual staff member, it can give you a strategic advantage and provide innumerable benefits to your business.
Many scientific studies have found that people who can speak more than one language enhance the workplace for others, as these individuals are often skilled multitaskers with impressive communication abilities.
Companies looking to hone their business globalization efforts should hire employees with diverse language skills, as these workers cannot only assist with picking the best localization services to adapt Website content, but they can also make the workplace much more productive for others in the company.
A recent study conducted by the University of Phoenix Research Institute found that demand for bilingual employees is expected to rise over the next ten years, with 70% of employers predicting Spanish-speaking skills will be highly sought after and 42% believing Chinese-speaking skills will be popular among job candidates.
But bilingual employees offer a wealth of benefits that extend beyond mere language acquisition. Consider the following next time you are assessing the skills of potential bilingual workers.
1. He or she can help you reach international consumers
Bilingual employees can be a valuable resource, whether they speak the language of the region you’re targeting or not. 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, bilingual individuals can help pinpoint which regions are more likely to interact with geotargeted posts and graphics. For example, after posting to social networks set up in a different language, your bilingual workers can read comments to assess how people are reacting to certain posts and help your business examine how to best move forward. This presents an exciting opportunity for your business, as researchers at the Nieman Journalism Lab found that geotargeted posts are six times more successful than regular ones.
2. Localization becomes a breeze
The same can be said about how well your Website and social networks are localized to individual regions. Using localization services allows you to translate long form content or Website pages in a different language, all while keeping regional preferences and buying behaviors in mind. Your bilingual staff member can act as the liaison for your company, assessing how well the localization process went and if there are any additional site features that should be adapted for particular regions.
In addition, employees who speak the language of the region you’re hoping to target can help with the more specific facets of localizing your Website, such as working with a team to develop a regional search engine optimization plan and providing firsthand feedback regarding features on the site.
3. You have a multilingual proofreader on staff
Unless you have hired a bilingual staff member specifically to write and translate content across several languages, he or she likely will not have the time to create all new Website copy while also performing the responsibilities of his or her position. However, after investing in professional translation services to accurately adapt your content, you may be able to set aside time for your bilingual employee to review the company’s work. This individual can view the copy through the eyes of a local, spotting grammatical or factual errors that may impede a global consumer from trusting your brand.
The same sentiment extends far beyond mere Website copy. Having a second pair of eyes to review legal documents, contracts or packaging that any international consumer would view is a great way to ensure your copy is error-free, helping your brand establish itself as both trustworthy and reputable in the eyes of international buyers.
4. Bilingual employees are better multitaskers
Comprehending the intricacies of two separate languages requires a significant amount of brainpower and as a result, many bilingual individuals are excellent multitaskers. According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, people who speak more than one language have a much easier time switching between two tasks than those who only speak one. Researchers asked bilingual and monolingual children to complete a series of computer tasks that assessed their ability to juggle moving between different questions. They found that multilingual children could change more quickly than those who only spoke one language, a clear indication of their superior multitasking skills, suggested Peggy McCardle, Ph.D., chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
“In simplest terms, the switching task is an indicator of the ability to multi-task,” McCardle explained. “Bilinguals have two sets of language rules in mind, and their brains apparently are wired to toggle back and forth between them depending on the circumstances.”
The ability to multitask is often highly sought after in the workplace, as corporate environments are constantly in flux. Employees who can both perform their duties while assisting with foreign language translation efforts can have a profound impact on how well your business functions each day.
5. These workers have excellent communication and listening skills
Northwestern University conducted a study that yielded similar results, discovering the cognitive benefits of bilingual individuals extended beyond multitasking. Researchers found that people who spoke several languages could process information more quickly and efficiently than those who only knew one. Viorica Marian, lead author of the study and professor in the university’s School of Communication, noted that the cognitive benefits stemmed from the fact that bilingual individuals have become accustomed to working the muscles of their brains.
“Bilinguals are always giving the green light to one language and red to another,” Marian said. “When you have to do that all the time, you get really good at inhibiting the words you don’t need.”
This ability to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information allows these individuals to hone their internal processing skills, making them ideal workers for any company.
So, now, let’s go back to the beginning of this little exercise and ask that all-important question once more: “Does Your Business Need to be Bilingual to Survive?”