Why Is Intercultural Communication Important in the Workplace?

  Reviewed by: Hashaw Elkins, MSPM, PMP, CSM, CSPO, PMI-PBA, LSSBB
  Written by: Stephanie Faris      Updated October 20, 2018
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The U.S. workplace has come a long way since the 1950s, when more than 60 percent of the workforce was white and male. Today’s office is generally filled with a diverse group of people, each with a unique background and set of life experiences. Whether it’s honoring everyone’s religious beliefs while celebrating holidays or learning to communicate in other languages, any forward-thinking business must consider inclusion as an important part of daily operations. In doing so, you’ll create a better work culture that attracts the best talent, while also impressing customers and broadening your horizons.

Tips

  • Diversity can improve business decision-making and even catalyze innovation. Multicultural organizations have the benefit of accessing a wider net of knowledge and perspectives. Intercultural communication is key in mining and utilizing that knowledge for business success.

Setting the Right Culture

A positive company culture has been linked to everything from increased productivity to reduced turnover. Creating a diverse staff composed of people with various cultural backgrounds and experiences will benefit your business in multiple ways. Unfortunately, multicultural workplaces can also face challenges related to differences in communication styles. Businesses that invest in programs that help diverse teams better communicate with each other are likelier to see that investment pay off. Companies with cultures that honor diversity are the most capable of benefiting from a culturally diverse workplace.

Winning Top Talent

Recruiting has become a serious problem for many employers, who reveal that they are having difficulty finding skilled workers. more specialized the worker needed, the more likely you are to spend weeks interviewing candidates, only to come up empty-handed. Creating a workspace where those from other cultures feel welcome makes it more likely you’ll fill empty positions. Today’s candidates spend time researching a company before applying for a job, including looking up your leadership team and reading reviews on sites like Glassdoor. It is more important than ever to maintain a reputation that is inclusive and non-discriminatory. Companies that are able to recruit multicultural talent or internationally are simply better positioned to attract world-class talent.

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Getting New Customers

Job candidates aren’t the only ones who pay close attention to your company culture. Many clients look at the people behind the organizations they work with, whether you’re B2B or you own a business that caters to the general buying public. Many markets are reaching saturation in local areas, which leads companies to look critically at penetrating new markets. Having a diverse team means you’ll be able to expand your reach to audiences you might not have won otherwise. This is especially true if you have employees who speak multiple languages and can communicate with those customers. Cultural and language knowledge can offer a powerful competitive edge in business.

Go Beyond Your Bubble

One of the biggest problems with the 1950s workforce was that nobody was around to speak for female and minority populations. Businesses that created products geared toward women and minorities had no minds on board to help with things like product development and marketing campaigns. Diverse teams keep you from operating in a bubble, where all of your ideas come only from people who share the same backgrounds and views on things. Intercultural communication helps open your work environment to a mix of ideas that can push your business to the next level.

About the Author

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.

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