< Back to Blog Posts

The Economic Case for Including a Multilingual Workforce


Muriel Clauson

In today's fast-paced and dynamic job market, strategic leaders recognize the critical role that a multilingual workforce plays in maintaining a competitive edge. As we navigate the intricate landscape of a changing global economy, the economic case for embracing diversity, specifically by including speakers of other languages, becomes increasingly undeniable.

Decoding the Labor Shortage Dilemma The contemporary workforce is encountering a profound shift, manifesting as a shortage of workers. While job growth outpaces the filling of open positions, a closer look reveals an impending crisis [1; 2]. By 2030, a staggering 85 million workers are projected to be absent from the global job market [1], a stark reality that demands immediate attention.

This shortage is not a fleeting issue tied to the pandemic era but a deeper-rooted challenge linked to demographic shifts. The aging workforce in major economies like the United States, Japan, Germany, and China is a driving force behind this scarcity [3; 4] . As the number of individuals over 55 rises, there are fewer people entering the workforce to fill the void. This age-related gap is coupled with a declining birth rate, resulting in a severe imbalance between retirees and new entrants [1;2;3;4;5].

The Multilingual Workforce Advantage In the face of this impending shortage, a solution emerges – tapping into the potential of a multilingual workforce. Currently facing barriers to employment due to language constraints, over 22 million workers in the U.S. represent an untapped resource for organizations [1]. Immigrants, refugees, and speakers of other languages constitute approximately 20% of the U.S. workforce, showcasing a diverse pool of talent [1].

Moreover, studies reveal that individuals with multilingual capabilities exhibit remarkable loyalty, staying 5.4 times longer in organizations where they feel supported in terms of language inclusion [5;6]. This longevity presents a compelling argument for employers to invest in fostering an environment that caters to the linguistic needs of their workforce.

Building the Economic Rationale

Here's where the rubber meets the road – translating these macroeconomic trends into a compelling ROI case for your organization.

Long-Term Workforce Planning: By 2030, the U.S. is projected to face a gap of
11.9 million jobs with only 1.4 million new entrants [1;2]. Organizations must analyze the percentage of their current workforce approaching retirement, understanding the potential cost implications of only being able to replace a fraction of these retirees.

Annual Turnover Costs: Given that, on average, there are 0.52 job seekers for every open position, organizations should evaluate their yearly turnover rates [1;2]. By calculating the cost of replacing only half of the departing employees, leaders can gauge the financial impact on production and growth.

Retention and Cost Savings: For organizations willing to embrace multilingual talent, the potential for substantial cost savings lies in the extended tenure of these individuals. Considering the average cost to hire and train a new employee, leaders can quantify the financial benefits of retaining a workforce that stays 5 times longer [5;6].

Looking Ahead: A Strategic Imperative As we stand at the precipice of a transformative era in workforce dynamics, the imperative to prioritize multilingual talent is clear. Beyond meeting inclusivity goals, organizations that proactively invest in overcoming language barriers position themselves as frontrunners in the war for talent. In conclusion, the economic case for embracing a multilingual workforce is not just a moral choice but a strategic imperative. Leaders must recognize that the seismic shifts in the job market necessitate forward-thinking strategies. By fostering an environment that embraces linguistic diversity, organizations not only contribute to a more inclusive society but also ensure their sustained success in an ever-evolving economic landscape.



1 Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/emp/#:~:text=Employment%20is%20projected%20to%20increase%20 by%2011.9%20million%20jobs%20from%202020%20to%202030&text=Employment%20is%20projected%20to%20grow,share%20of%20proj ected%20job%20growth

2 US Chamber Report https://www.uschamber.com/workforce/understanding-americas-labor-shortage

3 Talent Tectonics by Dr. Steve Hunt ISBN: 9781119885184

4 Eurostat: https://euobserver.com/migration/156589

5 Cambridge Handbook on the Changing Nature of Work https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/cambridge-handbook-of-the-changing-natureof-work/C7447144518784230FEF8E2586F41A2E

6 Deloitte “Unleashing the Power of Inclusion Report” https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/about-deloitte/us-aboutdeloitte-unleashing-power-of-inclusion.pdf

Related posts