When English Isn’t Enough: the Growing Importance of Bilingual Staffing
August 11, 2014
English is the most widely studied second language worldwide; it’s the language of business, commerce and travel. Many companies, however, are discovering that to compete in today’s marketplace, English isn’t enough. With growing linguistic diversity in the U.S. and increased globalization of U.S. businesses, bilingual staffing has shifted from novelty to necessity, both at home and abroad.
Bilingual Staffing at Home
According to the latest U.S. Census over 60 million Americans speak a language other than English in their homes. In order to be competitive, especially in major metro areas with diverse populations, companies need to speak the language of the communities they serve. Bilingual staffing will allow you to provide better services for your diverse clients.
Bilingual staffing not only allows you to communicate with a larger pool of potential clients; the multicultural viewpoints afforded by bilingual employees will add exponential value to your organization.
The linguistic requirements for each role in your organization should be analyzed carefully. Consider bilingual staffing for positions that deal with the general public such as receptionists and sales representatives.
Beyond bilingual staffing, you should take a good look at the way that your company communicates. Consider professional translation services in order to make marketing material, and company newsletters or bulletins available to clients who speak different languages.
Top Industries Going Bilingual
Advertising – Hispanic market advertising is the fastest growing sector of the advertising industry.
Consumer Goods – According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, the buying power of the Hispanic population is growing faster than any other minority group, estimated to reach $1.5 trillion by 2015.
Government – As the diversity of languages spoken in the U.S. continues to grow, government agencies nationwide offer more and more bilingual services.
Healthcare – For patients who don’t speak English, bilingualism is essential to communicate prescription instructions, gather medical histories, and make patients feel at ease.
Banking and Finance – From international transactions to bank statements and policy updates, financial institutions must be able to communicate in many languages in order to keep their clients informed.
Bilingual Staffing Abroad
Market research is the first step to determining whether your product or service will succeed in a foreign market. Contract professional translation services to ensure that all documentation is communicated effectively.
Building partnerships with local companies makes transition into a new market much smoother. In many countries business is based on personal connections. To help navigate the local language and customs, a professional interpreter will prove essential during your scouting visits to foreign markets.
Bilingual staffing will be important for leadership or managerial positions that are best filled by bilingual candidates who understand the local business climate.
Bilingualism may not be a requirement for all positions as knowledge of the local language will suffice for many roles. However, it will be difficult or impossible for you to assess a candidate if you do not speak their language. Professional bilingual staffing services can help you find the right person for every job.
Top Industries Going Global
The Energy Sector – With specific emphasis on renewable energy sources for developing nations, the Energy Sector is one of the largest industries worldwide.
Automotive and Transportation – Mass transit systems such as light rail and subway are increasingly implemented in developing countries.
Education – Foreign universities have begun to compete with local institutions of higher learning, specifically in China and India.
Financial Services – Banks and insurance providers have an increased presence overseas, especially in the developing regions of Eastern and Southern Asia.
Retail and Consumer Goods – This may be the largest globalized sector; items such as electronics, clothing, and luxury items are the most commonly imported goods the world over.
If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.