When there are multiple languages in the workplace, issues like miscommunication can arise. Often, these issues can result in decreased productivity and collaboration as workers become frustrated trying to understand one another. According to a recent report from the British Council, Business English is a vital factor in bringing the international workforce together for successful interactions.
In fact, the report noted that while Business English allows employees at multinational corporations to interact, it does not negate their individual cultural identity, which is essential to keeping global employees happy and engaged in their positions. Instead, adopting a Business English program is a great way for workers to develop their intercultural skills while still being able to communicate and collaborate with each other in a single language.
Workplace English is widespread among international companies
The British Council’s report “Culture at Work” focused on how intercultural skills are valued in the global workplace. Developed in conjunction with market research firm Ipsos and technology consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton, the report examined the daily interactions of 367 corporations in nine countries. The report identified Business English language skills as an essential element of a corporation’s workplace interactions as well as external communication, such as with a business partner or client in another country.
According to the report, international communication was a key component for more than two-thirds of surveyed multinational employers. More than 75% of the companies participating in the study reported that their workforce uses Business English on a daily basis and that the business language is an essential element of the organization’s interactions internally and externally. For the majority of the companies, English was the de facto language.
Corporations value intercultural skills for stronger communication
Most of the corporations surveyed reported Business English is crucial to their business, and it may not come as a surprise that the employers also reported the intercultural skills of their workforce are important to the multinational company’s success. According to the report, having intercultural skills means a person has “the ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints.”
According to the report, intercultural skills include being able to:
- Be respectful of other cultural traditions
- Adjust communication strategies
- Work in diverse teams
- Build trust with clients and other workers
Not surprisingly, being able to communicate with clients in their chosen language was found to be important to companies, and with Business English being the de facto language of the international business community, proficiency in the language was seen to be highly valued by the companies. The report also noted that when workers did not possess intercultural abilities, such as Business English skills, the company was at risk of losing clients and having high levels of conflict among team members.
In addition, while language proficiency and intercultural skills were seen to be essential, the corporations reported it can be difficult to recruit new employees with the abilities. Due to this challenge, many of the companies chose to educate their existing workforce.
With the workforce becoming increasingly global, more companies are investing in their employees’ language development to meet the growing demand to use Business English.
Consider taking a look at our business case builder, “The Case For Improving Your Company’s Business English,” to identify additional reasons why Business English is the de facto language of the international business community.