By Neya Abdi on Sep 21, 2020 5:00:00 AM
It’s a requirement that regularly appears in job postings: native English speakers only.
Communication is vital to business, and it’s more than fair to require excellent language skills from your employees, but recruiters often forget that “non-native English speakers” doesn’t necessarily mean “non-fluent”. It’s not uncommon to meet a non-native speaker whose English is more impressive than a native speaker's.
The benefits of hiring a diverse workforce, including non-native speakers, are tangible and widening your recruiting net to include them brings real advantages, that is, if one knows how to manage diversity and inlcusion in the workplace. Managing it successfully means, among others, that you will increase employee engagement. Read on to find out 4 tangible benefits of having a diverse workforce in your organization.
#1 Their Grammar Is Impeccable Because They Had To Learn The Language
Non-native speakers formally study and learn the language as opposed to native English speakers who absorb the language.
In anglophone countries, it’s increasingly rare to find classes solely dedicated to grammar instruction. Students spend more time reading novels and writing essays than memorizing grammar rules.
It’s the opposite for non-native speakers. Since they haven’t internalized the language from birth, their point of entry to fluency is through formal rules. This is why more time is spent on grammar while teaching English as a second language.
So don’t be surprised if your non-native English speaking employee is the person catching the small mistakes in that important report.
#2 Your Organization Can More Readily Find Highly Skilled Workers
Opening up recruitment to non-native English speakers means opening up your pool of candidates.
This is especially helpful for companies that employ highly skilled workers who often need to look internationally to account for a local skills shortage.
Keep the following things in mind:
Finding someone new is already expensive. Imagine the added costs if you’re unnecessarily restrictive.
Hiring a new employee can cost one-third of a new employee’s salary, according to the Harvard Business Review, and even five times a new hire’s salary, according to the Society for Human Resources Management.
You may be forced to hire or keep an employee that’s not a good fit. It’s the law of supply and demand. Not only do you have to pay more for a highly skilled employee, you also have to put up with more if your choices are limited. Putting up with the wrong employee is a short-term fix that can harm your company’s culture and productivity in the long run.
Welcoming non-native English speaking candidates also encourages your HR department to develop as a team and think creatively, which will also help you navigate some of the HR challenges in multinational companies. The slight inconveniences of hiring non-native English speakers (i.e. language proficiency testing) are small compared to the advantages. Plus, they can always improve their English skills from home with qualified teachers.
Even those inconveniences can become even smaller if you challenge your team to develop innovative ways to find top candidates without using the blunt “native English speakers only” option.
#3 They Can Readily Adjust To New Situations
Non-native English speakers have spent time adapting to new environments. Not every non-native English speaker is necessary an immigrant - they may be a citizen who was raised in another country - but many have gone through the process of moving to another country or studying away from home.
These candidates have also gone through the challenging process of picking up the social customs and norms in an unfamiliar country. These are the sorts of employees that can adapt, whether it’s adjusting to a change within the organization or traveling abroad to represent the company.
Speaking of international travel, let’s not forget the most obvious benefit of hiring a non-native English employee: They are, at the very least, bilingual. English may even be their third or fourth language.
Having someone on your team who can speak Hindi or Arabic or Spanish is a huge asset if you’re ever conducting international business.
#4 They Are Uniquely Motivated and Driven
Non-native English speakers face a number of obstacles that make them uniquely motivated. For an immigrant or temporary worker, there is an entire legal process that makes the simple act of applying for a position a job on its own. Even those who happen to be citizens have to overcome unconscious cultural biases.
Both of these factors make for dedicated employees who sincerely value their job and are extremely driven to prove themselves.
Learn more about managing a diverse and inclusive workplace with our free guide: download the full guide here.
[This article was originally posted in 2017 and updated in 2020.]
Help your employees take their professional English communication skills to the next level with any of the following modalities:
- Individual lessons - the most personalized course your workforce can get.
- Group courses - small groups with specific topics to work on.
- Company webinars - private sessions we customize for your company.
Remote. Flexible. Effective.
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