Impact of Culture and Language on Employee Productivity

Language and culture largely influence employee productivity in a business. Language determines the effectiveness of communication within the organization. It also determines how much impact a business can have on the market since a business mostly penetrates a market whose language and culture it understands. Similarly, culture affects the way employees interact among themselves and, therefore, their productivity. There are advantages and disadvantages to having employees who speak a common language or share a common culture.

The most obvious benefit is that such employees are likely to always be in congruence with each other, which boosts their productivity. There are also strengths and weaknesses of language and culture diversity. Diversity encourages personal and professional growth, thereby improving performance. This research paper evaluates the impact of language and culture on employee productivity.

Language influences employee productivity because it determines how employees communicate with each other. Employee productivity is enhanced when communication flows effortlessly between colleagues. Communication is simplified when employees speak the same language in contrast to many different ones. For instance, it makes it possible to issue a memo in the common language. After receiving the memo, the employees can begin working immediately, thereby maximizing their productivity. They do not have to debate the contents of the memo and seek clarity on contentious issues brought about by differences in languages.

In a workplace where employees speak different languages, a lot of time is spent harmonizing communication to ensure all employees are in consonance (Dale-Olsen & Finseraas, 2020). In addition to time, a company may need to procure the services of a translator to translate company communication from one language to another. Language diversity introduces costs of communication, which reduce employee productivity. Therefore, when employees speak different languages, it may reduce their performance and even productivity.

Nevertheless, speaking the same language does not guarantee high levels of productivity. Instead, to increase employee productivity, a business should invest in developing the language proficiency of its employees. Language training refers to training meant to improve the language capabilities of a business and its employees. For instance, employees can be taught how to communicate better with colleagues as well as customers.

According to a study, language training makes employees more confident when working with partners, teams, and vendors (Rodger, 2018). This means that they feel comfortable enough to share their ideas since they will be able to adequately discuss these ideas. Consequently, they make more connections with other colleagues as well as customers. Since they are more self-assured, employee morale increases, and they deliver a better quality of output. The result is that their productivity increases and they generate more revenue for the business.

Language training sometimes involves developing the employees’ foreign language fluency. Mastery of more than one language has the potential to increase employee productivity. An employee who can communicate fluently in several languages is able to approach a wider range of customers. This enhances their productivity because access to a wider market increases employee output. For instance, a multilingual salesperson is likely to be more productive than one who speaks only one language.

Language diversity may increase employee performance and productivity within a company. It could also make employees more efficient in their work. In a study investigating the usefulness of language training, 50% of the employees reported that it helped them save approximately three hours or more per week on the job (Rodger, 2018). Therefore, there are numerous benefits to language training, some of which are realized when the training includes learning a new language.

Aside from language, culture is another factor that impacts employee performance. This aspect can be considered from the viewpoint of whether employees share a common culture or whether the workplace is culturally diverse. In a workplace where employees come from the same culture, they are likely to share values and beliefs that make it easier to work together (Jayasundera & Geroge, 2018).

For instance, the US culture is individualistic, while most Asian cultures are collectivist. It may prove difficult for an American and a person from an Asian community such as Japanese to work together. The former believes in individual effort in the workplace, while the latter beliefs in working together to achieve a common goal. This makes it difficult for them to work together because they have different approaches to accomplishing tasks. Conversely, having employees who have common cultural values could increase their productivity. It is advantageous to have employees from a homogeneous culture to ensure their values do not conflict and hinder their productivity.

Another advantage of having culturally-homogenous workplaces is that it reduces possible conflicts among workers that could lead to decreased productivity. When employees come from different cultures, they are bound to have differing opinions about workplace issues. For instance, some cultures believe that women should not hold senior positions as men within the same organization. If a person from such a culture encounters a workplace with a female manager, a lot of time is likely to be spent in conflict. In most cases, people believe that their culture is superior and are reluctant to defer to others when there is a difference of opinion (Cletus et al., 2018).

When employees share a culture, they are likely to have shared beliefs. This reduces workplace conflicts because they are likely to concur on issues. In the absence of cross-cultural conflicts and issues, employees can focus on their work and deliver to the best of their capabilities. Therefore, having employees from the same culture decreases workplace conflict and increases productivity.

However, cultural homogeneity has few advantages in terms of employee productivity and has virtually no place in the modern work environment. In the present times, businesses are embracing diversity because it provides more positive results. One of the advantages of culturally diverse workplaces is that it increases innovation. People from different cultures have different upbringings, which means that they have varied ways of looking at the same matter. In the workplace, this manifests in the form of a variety of ideas. Employees bring different perspectives from their various cultures (Rasool et al., 2018).

This introduces new ideas and novel ways of doing things that could improve workplace performance. In addition to boosting creativity, diversity also improves problem-solving. Just as workers from different cultures have varied ideas, they have diverse solutions to the same problem. Diversity improves decision-making since a business enjoys a wider array of possible solutions to implement for a given problem. Increased innovation and improved problem-solving within an organization are indicators of high employee productivity. They signify that employee output has increased so much that workers can introduce revenue-generating ideas to a business.

Cultural diversity is also important to a business because it equips employees with skills that help to increase their productivity. Examples of such skills include communication skills, self-awareness, conflict resolution, and critical thinking. In the presence of colleagues from different cultures, an employee’s communication skills are likely to sharpen. For instance, they will find ways to express themselves in a way that an outsider will understand. This requires them to employ critical and creative thinking skills to pass their message.

Employees will also develop greater self-awareness when they are constantly in the presence of others who are not like them. Additionally, although having employees from different cultures increases the likelihood of workplace conflicts, it also teaches employees how to resolve these issues (Cletus et al., 2018). Cultural diversity within the workplace imparts invaluable skills to employees that enable them to improve their performance. These skills acquired from cross-cultural interaction make workers better at their job. This has the effect of improving the general productivity of workers and could mean increased revenue for the business.

From the foregoing, it is evident that language and culture have a large influence on employee performance and productivity. There are a few benefits to having a workplace where employees speak the same language and share a culture. The main benefit of such a workplace is that it decreases the occurrence of conflicts that would otherwise curtail employee productivity. However, diversity in the workplace boosts employee performance to a greater extent than the lack of diversity. Linguistic diversity boosts confidence and increases the potential markets that employees can access. On the other hand, cultural diversity improves creativity, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. In the present age, businesses are encouraged to embrace the language and cultural diversity because in doing so, they will be able to reap more benefits in terms of employee productivity.


Cletus, H. E., Mahmood, N. A., Umar, A., & Ibrahim, A. D. (2018). Prospects and challenges of workplace diversity in modern day organizations: A critical review. HOLISTICA–Journal of Business and Public Administration, 9(2), 35-52. Web.

Dale-Olsen, H., & Finseraas, H. (2020). Linguistic diversity and workplace productivity. Labor Economics, 64, 101813. Web.

Jayasundera, A., & George, B. (2017). Cross-cultural issues in employee performance and talent management in the Middle East. Palermo Business Review, (16), 11-36.

Rasool, A., Khatir, G., & Nadir, N. S. (2018). Diversity and its impact on employee satisfaction and performance. CLEAR International Journal of Research in Commerce & Management, 9(7), 12-15.

Rodger, M. (2018). 5 ways language training improves employee performance. ATD. Web.

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