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Retaining critical talent - Is language an essential asset?

The importance of succession planning

Elena Arau | 27th August 2016

In today’s economy, when going global is a key objective in many companies’ strategic plans, it’s vitally important to consider cultural and language skills when determining who is the critical talent in the organisation.

Identifying and retaining critical talent as well as succession planning are important parts of the strategic development of a company. However, it’s not an easy task.

In today’s economy, when going global is a key objective in many companies’ strategic plans, it’s vitally important to consider cultural and language skills when determining who is the critical talent in the organisation. For example, it is estimated that the UK is losing around £50 billion per annum as a result of language and cultural ignorance, according to the Manifesto of languages published by APPG for Modern Languages.

When operating internationally, having employees that have multicultural skills and are polyglots or bilingual is a huge advantage. Our latest Global Talent Report shows that 61.5% of the director level respondents working in HR and surveyed in the UK said that they give an advantage to candidates with international experience, 62% to multilingual candidates and 64% to those with multicultural experience. When it comes to building international relationship or building effective international communication strategies, these skills are clearly crucial.

The issue for employers though is that these skills are at a premium. Therefore, the increasing battle for talent across borders suggests that companies will need to do more to attract and retain the most promising talent that have all the multicultural capabilities that would support international trade and global expansion.

Satisfied and engaged employees are more effective and productive and are also more likely to stick around. Retention of employees means saving resources that would otherwise be used to recruit, hire and train new staff.

If we can therefore encourage our kids to learn a second language and take time to gain experience working in another country, this will help in the longer term. Employees with these skills will be far better placed to work in a company that has diversity in its ranks and this can only be of benefit. Diversity contributes to more effective decision-making and problem-solving by providing a range of perspectives, which can draw attention to shared assumptions that may be implicitly guiding current practices. This results in a broad spectrum of expertise and a more robust process for critical evaluation.

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