Using AI to break down language barriers

Global business operations present a unique communications opportunity for leaders: increasing productivity, efficiency, and collaboration within a multilingual workforce. AI-powered solutions help break down language barriers and improve communication while assisting teams in achieving business goals. We’ll review the importance of good workplace communications before highlighting the specific benefits of using AI tools in a multilingual organization.

Ineffective Communication Hurts Your Team

Many business leaders stress the importance of good communication, but only some articulate what that looks like within their organization. Defining “good communication” is imperative today due to increased global teams and work-from-anywhere policies. Our chances of collaborating with coworkers who speak a different or second language have risen exponentially in specific industries, such as tech and manufacturing. This isn’t exclusive to global corporations, as over 18% of the US labor force is foreign-born.

The evolving structure and makeup of today’s work teams make good communication skills more vital than ever, especially considering the adverse effects of poor communication in the workplace. Compromised workplace safety, conflicts stemming from miscommunication, and project delays are just a few issues that arise when linguistic differences aren’t addressed. Employees feel the effects in other ways, too:

  • A study from FlexOS showed that employees rated their managers a seven out of 10 on their ability to manage hybrid and remote teams, with 30% citing “lack of clear communication” as the most significant problem area.
  • Recent research shows that “business leaders estimate poor communication in the workplace accounts for a loss of 7.47 hours per employee per week.”
  • A top reason for low workplace morale was a lack of communication. This also impacts employees’ ability to focus and feel engaged in their work.

Language barriers prevent reliable, consistent, and clear communication between employees and leadership. Luckily, AI technology is helping teams communicate more effectively with language translation tools that can create better employee communication experiences.

Benefits of Using AI in a Multilingual Workplace

The benefits of using AI in a multilingual workplace go beyond gaining more transparent communication and understanding through translation.

With AI tools available to interpret conversations and streamline the translation process, businesses have the potential to expand globally and recruit talent from a much larger applicant pool. On the other hand, on the other side of the employer-employee relationship, AI tools can open up more job opportunities to people who have struggled to secure employment due to language barriers.

For existing teams, AI technology can empower them to contribute and collaborate with greater understanding. People can be more efficient and productive when they can resolve workflow issues independently. Without needing assistance from someone else to troubleshoot, every team member has more time to complete necessary and high-value tasks that support the company’s overall goals.

This has proven true for Radial CEO Laura Ritchey. Her team includes a multilingual population, and AI has helped in onboarding and training where language might have originally impeded the process. For example, when using RF scanners in the warehouse, “If they're navigating through and they're getting lost, [the scanner] automatically prompts them to get back on track without waiting until a supervisor comes over to do that physically,” Ritchey explained. “You're enabling them to be more successful, and their ability to perform is enhanced because we're, hopefully, able to interact with them in their native language.”

Creating a culturally aware and empathetic workplace requires strategy and leadership teams committed to building a supportive, inclusive space. Using AI tools to improve communication for every team member is essential to creating that type of work environment.

Written by

Megan Snyder
Megan Snyder

Senior Editor | CEO.com

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