In today’s business world organizations are implementing strategies designed to overcome their competitors. One common trend among them is the use of a common language in the workplace. To date, the preferred language of the business world is English (Clark, 2012). Major companies all over the world have adopted it as their preferred language; examples include Kone Elevators, Siemens, Nokia, Microsoft, and many others. Companies see a common language as the answer to most collaborative and efficiency problems. Nevertheless, studies have shown a different picture, one in which mandated languages are causing heated emotions and behavioral changes that undermine the very reason for their existence (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012).
Since this trend came into being, most companies have paid less or no attention to the dark side of a mandatory language, opting to instead take a single minded focus on the benefits of such a practice (Welinder, Araujo, & Lynn, 2012). Due to the changing business environment around the globe, most companies have no choice but to respond to them to remain relevant. The usage of English is increasing and is used by most business people in their daily activities, though companies who use different languages in the workplace have often felt frustrated and left out of the global market, forcing them to follow suit and adopt English as their common language (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012). In using English as their language for conducting business, companies are working to ensure that they are on the same level competitively, assisting them to do business with the least language restrictions.
Furthermore, companies are increasingly expanding into areas that speak different languages. In reducing communication barriers, companies are opting to use English as the mandatory language in the workplace. Additionally, most companies believe that by adopting a common language employees will be able to work in greater harmony, increasing productivity (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012). These global pressures have pushed companies to strive to reduce language conflicts that arise with the practice of using multiple languages to do business (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012; Welinder, Araujo, & Lynn, 2012).
The results of adopting a common language have been met with mixed reactions from workers on a global scale. The emotional and mental impacts of operating under a mandatory language have been reported by native and non-native English speakers alike. When Global Tech, a German company, adopted English as their common language for business its employees referred to the move as a handicap; they complained about the process, citing difficulties in expressing themselves in English, reducing communication between workers (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012). One of the primary goals of a mandatory language is to ensure that information sharing is successful, though sometimes, as may be seen, the opposite is the result.
French Co. employees responded in a similar matter when queried about the use of English as the company’s official language (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012). They cited reduced capabilities in the completion of their tasks when required to conduct them in English (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012). One primary ambition of any organization is to have its employees firing from all cylinders, both in their level of expertise and their productivity. As noted, a common language can do the exact opposite, hindering the full potential of some employees in cases where they are unable to appropriately project their goals and intentions (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012).
Similarly to those instances described above, Global Moves Japanese noted that there was an increase in time needed for task completion when using English as compared to using the native language of its employees; a similar case applied to some employees of Chip Co. in the United States (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012). Time is essential in any business operation and wasting that time on issues like those caused by mandatory language can prove costly to the organization. A common language policy should be used wisely as it has the potential to hinder operations within a company, especially if the majority of workers are non-native English language speakers.
In conclusion, employees working in conditions wherein a mandatory language is required have, in some cases, reported inferiority complexes; an employee at French Co. stated that an employee would feel diminished in terms of their level of professionalism if they were unable to speak English fluently (Neeley, Hinds, & Cramton, 2012). These types of scenarios cause avoidance of job tasks and result in mistrust between native and non-native English language speakers (Welinder, Araujo, & Lynn, 2012). These situations have the potential to spell doom for many companies given that the collaborative environment needed to do business is absent. Therefore, a common language may only be successful if all employees collaborate in aiding each other in matters relating to language application and acceptance, regardless of their prowess.