In today’s globalized business landscape, multilingual employees have become an invaluable asset for organizations keen to leverage international markets. This specialized skill set goes beyond simply knowing another language: it can have a direct impact on a company’s success.
Everyone marvels at the team member who effortlessly communicates in five languages, but exactly how valuable is their skill? And is it possible to measure the return on investment (ROI) of an organization´s multilingual employees? The short answer is yes (but you need to know how).
In this article we explore the ROI of multilingualism and how leveraging the skills of multilingual employees can contribute to your organization’s growth, as well as giving it a competitive edge.
How to measure the ROI of multilingual employees
To understand the value of multilingual employees it is necessary to calculate the costs associated with hiring them and compare those costs with the overall benefits they bring to the organization. Factors to consider when measuring the ROI of multilingual employees are:
- Increased customer base: Evaluate the potential impact multilingual employees have on the expansion of the customer base by determining the number of new customers or markets reached as a result of having employees who are able to communicate in multiple languages.
- Customer satisfaction and retention: Measure the effect multilingual employees have on customer satisfaction and retention rates. Analyse feedback, customer surveys and other relevant metrics to determine whether having a multilingual workforce has a positive influence on customer loyalty and churn rates.
- Sales and revenue growth: Evaluate the contribution of multilingual employees to sales and revenue growth. Determine if their language skills have resulted in increased sales, new business opportunities, or partnerships with customers from different language backgrounds.
- Competitive advantage: Consider the competitive edge associated with having multilingual employees: assess how their language skills differentiate your organization from the competition, and the impact this has on winning new business or securing contracts.
- Cost savings: Identify any cost savings associated with having a multilingual workforce. For example, if translation or interpreting services were previously outsourced, having employees who can perform these tasks in-house may result in cost savings.
- Employee productivity: Measure the impact of language skills on employee productivity. Evaluate whether multilingual employees can collaborate more effectively with colleagues, improve communication within the organization, or perform tasks that would otherwise require external language support.
- Language proficiency levels: Assess the language skills of employees and quantify their ability to communicate effectively in multiple languages; consider factors such as fluency, comprehension, and the ability to perform business tasks in different languages.
- Language training costs: Identify the costs incurred by providing language training to employees, this includes language courses, materials, and any additional resources required for the training. Digital language service providers such as Speexx offer online corporate language training with personal coaches as a convenient all-in-one solution.
Once you have collected the necessary data, you can calculate the ROI using the following formula:
ROI = (benefits – costs) / costs * 100
It’s a good idea to consider both quantitative and qualitative factors when evaluating the ROI of multilingual employees, so let’s have a closer look at why multilingual employees are crucial, and learn more about the key benefits.
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Why multilingual employees are crucial
Unless your business is confined to a very specific geographical region – a rarity in today’s globalized world – there comes a time when you´ll want to take your market overseas; this is when the need for language skills is most acute. Robert Lane Greene of The Economist points out that a list of the world’s richest economies is dominated by countries that are famously multilingual, including:
- Scandinavian countries where English is spoken widely.
Among the key factors contributing to these countries´ success is effective communication in more than one language, which begs the question: if Swedes or Singaporians were monolingual with no significant knowledge of English, would they be as successful?