The Welsh Government along with the Federation of Small Businesses are urging employers to put Welsh at the heart of the workplace, and encouraging companies to operate bilingually where possible. With a range of logistical, design and cost implications, what can be done to support the private sectors take up of The Welsh Language.
Our panel's thoughts can be found below, but if you would like to contribute to this feature, or any of our future features, please contact [email protected]
Alun Gruffudd | Partner
From bilingual shop signs to Welsh greetings or email signatures, there are small actions which business can take to attract a Welsh speaking customer base and make their proposition. You’d be surprised how much difference such small steps can make. It’s also a great boost if businesses embrace these opportunities from within, through leadership, internal advocacy and a shared vision of the Welsh language as an economic opportunity, by being an USP on the local and global stage. However, one of the most effective and cost-efficient means of achieving a bilingual service is through employing Welsh speaking staff who can develop that bilingual ethos and nurture those crucial, meaningful relationships with Welsh speaking customers which in turn generates customer loyalty, as research has shown.
Karen Thomas | Head of Corporate Banking
Barclays like many large businesses has a Welsh language policy and even a dedicated Welsh language call centre based in Haverfordwest as we recognise the importance of servicing a diverse customer base. However a formal Welsh language policy may not be appropriate for all businesses – a self-employed plumber for example based in Chepstow may have no requirement for a formal Welsh language policy but what may be more important is that he/she understands the importance of the Welsh language and how he/she could potentially use that skill set and identify opportunities to improve his/her business.
Like any business, obtaining a competitive advantage has to be balanced against cost and return on investment. If providing a Welsh language proposition delivers that advantage at a reasonable cost, then it would seem prudent to explore such options. In simplistic terms if you want the private sector to embrace the Welsh language then just like every other investment in terms of time and cost then you have to demonstrate a return on that investment, whether that be increased revenue, higher customer satisfaction, greater brand awareness or improved staff engagement for example. Highlight the success stories and always convince rather than coerce.
Business Doctors Cardiff
Graham L Morgan | Managing Director
It is crucial in my opinion that every Business starts by having a clear strategic plan mapping as far as is possible the journey they would like to take. Within that plan the impact of the Welsh Language on their staff, their customers, their products and their markets would need to be assessed and a firm decision made on the role and importance the Welsh language would have on their individual business. Having support available to help businesses embrace the Welsh Language if it does not form an integral part of the individual business plan would not be appropriate in my opinion.
In certain parts of Wales and in certain sectors I can be fairly certain you would not make the progress you desire without embracing the Welsh Language. In other situations where your business is based in Wales yet your customers are elsewhere in the world it would not be logical to embrace the Welsh Language if there is no automatic fit with the plans you have for your business.
Coming from a village in Pembrokeshire where the family tree can be tracked through 6 generations I strongly believe embracing the Welsh language in a Business context has to have a strategic context and not led by the support available. If your business does need to embrace all that is Welsh then existing support from the Welsh Language Service (formerly the Welsh Language Board) is already available.
Beth Perry | Welsh Language Engagement Officer
Obviously the cost of implementing Welsh language services is the primary concern for many SMEs, especially with ROI perceived to be low. However there are over 500,000 Welsh speakers in Wales and although they may not choose to use the Welsh services of a business, there is a feeling of appreciation towards the effort of that business in providing them the option. In a competitive marketplace, this could be the USP that makes your customer choose your company over that of a competitor. This is not to say that everything needs to be fluent Welsh, but an effort should be made to at least have some recognition of the language, a simple ‘diolch’ or ‘croeso’ that will show the respect to the language of the country that you are operating in.
There are provisions provided by Cymraeg i Busnes and the Welsh Language Commissioner such as free translation of up to 500 words, and support elsewhere to introduce the Welsh language. Resources like the ones that these enterprises are providing are invaluable – why wouldn’t you want to utilise a free service to gain more respect and more customers? You will become a more authentic and trusted company as well as helping your bottom line.
National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW)
Ryan Evans | Bilingual Champion
The private sector in Wales can play a vital role in achieving the Welsh Government’s aim of reaching one million Welsh speakers by 2050, as they represent the vast majority of businesses in Wales.
Employers in the private sector should take advantage of the Welsh-medium and bilingual apprenticeships currently available, where all employers should encourage their employees that have Welsh language skills to use their Welsh at work; even if they as an employer do not speak Welsh; as this will enable them to service a new demographic.
NTfW has started to engage with employers to support them in sourcing training provider(s) to meet their apprenticeship needs, which includes their Welsh language needs.
The private sector needs to take full advantage of the fully funded ‘Cymraeg Gwaith’ (Work Welsh) courses on offer through the National Centre for Learning Welsh; as well as seeking advice and support on offer by the ‘Welsh for Business’ officials based all over Wales; who support micro businesses and SMEs to boost the services that they offer in Welsh.
Welsh in Business
Sara Peacock | Support Officer
With over 80% of Welsh speakers more likely to choose a business that uses the language, and over 80% of non-Welsh speakers proud of the language, it is fast becoming an important tool for businesses in Wales. But there are undoubtedly skill and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to make sure that all businesses can reap the benefits. So the Cymraeg Byd Busnes service provides practical help such as small translations and help with Welsh-language marketing as well as advice on everything from training and recruitment to Welsh-language software. It doesn’t have to be a choice between operating just in English or entirely bilingually – there are all sorts of interim steps that businesses can take to begin incorporating the language. Local Cymraeg Byd Busnes officers all over the country can provide tailored recommendations to any SME and then help to implement them – all entirely for free!
Mark Powney | Managing Director
One of the biggest inhibitors for the private sector when adopting a bi-lingual communications strategy is unfortunately cost. If the uptake of bilingualism is to gather momentum, then cost implications most certainly need rebalancing.
The reasons for implementing a bilingual communications strategy are obvious and I would encourage all businesses to seriously consider the benefits of doing so.
However, if we are to hit the Welsh Government’s aim of reaching one million Welsh speakers by 2050 then more needs to be done to address the content acquisition costs. For many businesses and organisations, implementing Welsh into their communications strategy can be a luxury, compulsory or a personal passion, and this shouldn’t be ignored.
For the majority of Welsh business owners adopting the welsh language into their business is a choice and not a necessity. Make the cost of implementation a small blip on the P&L rather than an non-essential cost burden and Welsh cultural passion and energy will always come through.
There is a clear gap for disruption within the translation market in Wales and the social enterprise model is potentially the solution to bringing down translation overheads and turning supply and demand into demand and supply.
Welsh Language Commissioner’s ‘Hybu’ Team
Gethin Edwards | Senior Officer
Statistics show that customers appreciate seeing businesses using the Welsh language; and an overwhelming majority of businesses in Wales believe that using Welsh is a way of attracting customers and adding value to their product or service. Here’s what our newly published research showed:
- 76% of businesses agree strongly or partially agree that using Welsh attracts customers
- 82% of businesses agree strongly or partially agree that using Welsh adds value to a product or service
- 80% of businesses agree strongly or partially agree that using Welsh is important to the ethos of the business.
- 84% of businesses agree strongly or partially agree that using Welsh enhances the business brand.
The ‘Hybu’ (promotion) Team is a group of experienced and friendly officers who work across Wales to give practical help and support to businesses and charities to develop their use of Welsh.
We understand that it is hard for businesses to give a comprehensive Welsh service overnight, so we help them to identify their priorities and to break the work down to individual steps, which are easy to reach.
We have listened to the needs of businesses, and have developed the resources they need the most. These resources include guidelines on using the Welsh language on social media, bilingual design, and information about the legal requirements to use Welsh when working under contract on behalf of a public organisation. We also offer a free Welsh language proofreading service.
If you want to give Welsh a go in your business – get in touch!