Why every company should invest in language training


Stop losing your potential revenue due to communication problems

In an increasingly global world, the ability to communicate in multiple languages is becoming an imperative for the successful growth of any business. Lack of language skills can cause misunderstanding and conflict between international suppliers and clients.

According to Professor James Foreman-Peck for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the UK economy is losing around £50bn a year or 3.5% of GDP in missed business opportunities due to a lack of language skills in the workforce. Additionally, according to the British Chamber of Commerce, investing in language and cultural skills can increase export sales by 45%.

Breaking down language barriers in customer service

Language related issues in customer service can often be a barrier to excellent customer satisfaction feedback. Issues include; staff not being able to speak certain  languages, lacking confidence in speaking and writing, and an inability to answer phone calls or leaving information inquiries unanswered. Even in Europe, many companies do not have English-speaking staff or their English language skills are not good enough to do business.

On the other hand, employees with cultural affinity and ambition to service customers from different countries in a professional way are key to the success of any organisation. You sell in your customer’s choice of language. If customers insist on speaking their own language, you had better have people who can talk to them.

Investing in language skills doesn’t just mean the language

Knowing a language also means understanding a culture. Attitudes towards businesses, the way they are run and views on management styles can vary greatly from culture to culture.

For example, in China, the customary tradition is that gifts are refused up to three times before being accepted. In the United Arab Emirates it is important to eat, shake hands and pass documents with the right hand only. Using the left hand to do any of these activities would be a serious insult. In Spain, business professionals see a deadline more as a guideline and not as something that is frowned upon if missed.

Misunderstanding can have a huge impact on your reputation. Sensitivity and maintaining a good relationship is vital when managing a business deal. Companies need to understand the importance of cross-cultural communication and that the right bow or handshake can make or break a business deal.

Invest in your employees to improve ROI

A good corporate training programme can be more attractive than a monetary incentive. Investing in different corporate training would help to reduce your staff turnover by 70%. To add to that, with a personal development training programme you can increase employee productivity by 5.2%.

If you’re still not sure, according to the ASTD research study (State of the Industry Report, 1998), companies investing more in learning and development increase their added value (expressed in monetary terms) by more than 57% and revenue by more than 37%. It’s not tricky anymore to measure ROI when it comes to learning.

Make sure language learning classes are available for everyone

We at busuu aim to change this and make language learning available for everyone.

For companies who seek to roll out language training across large parts of the organisation, busuu for Business is a scalable solution with competitive pricing, starting from £60 per employee. The package includes 12 language courses from beginner to advanced level, access via web and app with offline mode and seamless onboarding and tracking for Learning & Development teams.

Harriet is Busuu’s Senior English Language Expert. She is from a little village near Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and studied French and Spanish at university in Southampton. Then she went to live in France where she started teaching English. She loves cooking and eating food from different cuisines and singing with her choir.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here