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How an Employee’s Culture Affects Their Motivation

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As you know, your employees do not fit inside of a “one size fits all” mold. When you add in cultural differences for those employees born or raised in another region or country, the contrasts can be stark. Knowing how to engage with your employees to ensure they are properly motivated for peak job performance can really make a difference for both your company and your employees. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your multicultural workforce:

  • Set expectations and do not assume they know U.S. standards. It is important not to assume that your employees are comfortable with the standards we may take for granted in the U.S. Be sure to explain your expectations clearly. Whatever your desires as a manager, communicate those clearly. Employees from other cultures may have such respect for their managers that they feel complaining is inappropriate and a sign of disloyalty. If you expect feedback for improvement, make sure your employee knows you want to hear from him/her and to bring issues to your attention.

BONUS TIP #1! Not everyone will feel comfortable speaking up in an open-forum type of meeting, especially if they are not completely confident in their English-language skills. A Hispanic employee, for example, may be hesitant to share opinions in this type of setting for fear of perceived confrontation or disrespect for management. If you are looking for feedback on ways to improve certain areas of your company’s culture, you may have more luck with one-on-one conversations with these employees.

  • Employee recognition preferences vary from culture to culture. In the U.S., we often recognize individuals directly for their performance and contributions. Titles like “Employee of the Month” work well for American or Australian employees, for example, but they can lead to embarrassment for employees from Asian cultures who prefer to be praised as part of a team.
  • Figure out what is important to the employee, and base incentives on this. Many American and Asian employees prioritize their career accomplishments and advancements first and may be incentivized more by monetary bonuses or the possibility of a promotion. However, employees from other cultures, like Western Europe, often prioritize family time, so they may be more motivated by the ability to earn extra vacation days or time off than the typical American or Asian worker. That’s not to say that both incentives won’t work for all employees in different scenarios, but it’s important to recognize that some incentives may work better over others for your multicultural workforce.

BONUS TIP # 2! Survey your employees. Finding the best ways to motivate your employees is difficult sometimes. If you are able to survey your employees anonymously to find out what would work best in your particular company, this may be highly effective for you. It is also a sign to your employees that you care about them and want only the best for them.

The Value of Hiring Multilingual Employees

The Value of Hiring Multilingual Employees

With ever-increasing globalization in the marketplace, having multilingual employees in your workplace can be of great benefit. According to recent Census reports, the population of non-English speakers in the United States has continued to rise over the past 20-30 years. Having one or multiple employees who speak a language other than English can give your business a definite edge in a competitive atmosphere.

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Early Language Learning Positions Workers for an Expanding Global Market

In the United States, the majority of students who learn a second language do not begin learning this language until the age of 14, or when they enter high school. However, studies have shown that there are several benefits to learning a foreign language earlier in life, and many elementary schools are offering foreign language courses, as well. Spanish is the foreign language most commonly taught at the elementary school level, followed by French, Latin and Chinese. In a market in which the demand for bilingual individuals is growing rapidly, the earlier the student can begin his or her language learning the better. Not only do students who begin learning a second language in elementary school often show improved test scores and cognitive function over those who do not, but these students are also 70% more likely to reach an intermediate level of communication than those who begin in high school. This means that the early language learner has a much higher chance of effectively using these skills in the marketplace as an adult. As more and more companies expand and do business overseas, the ability to be able to speak and interact with those who speak another language will be more important than ever. 

Those who are able to master a second language from an early age are also more likely to continue to develop their language skills throughout life. One way that they are able to do so is by developing skills needed for translation and interpretation, industries that continue to grow year after year. While simply being bilingual isn't enough for most translation and interpretation projects, those individuals who have the strong grasp of a second language from an early age are better equipped to master the art of translation or interpretation as an adult. A person who did not learn the language until later in life has to focus on both learning the language and the skills needed for translation and interpretation within a shorter time period.

In Europe, 80% of students speak a second language, but only 14% of students in the US consider themselves bilingual. When you couple results like higher test scores and cognitive function with a higher propensity for specialized language application later on, introducing a foreign language program into an elementary school level curriculum seems to make a good deal of sense, as it would allow the US to better position skilled bilingual workers in an ever-expanding global market.