The independent Welsh Language Commissioner was established to promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language and can impose compliance standards on specific organisations to ensure that Welsh language services are as good and equally accessible as English.
However, the Commissioner has accepted that this can be challenging for some small businesses and charities, but with a little imagination and creative planning, it is possible to work towards that aim and offers advice and guidance to all organisations, whether they have a statutory requirement to use the Welsh language or not. In this respect, Swyddle has consistently argued that it need not be expensive or disruptive to “business as usual” to develop a bilingual identity and function.
Support and Guidance
There are many services and numerous free guidance on offer to support this aim. The Commissioner, for example, has conducted a range of resources and research which is geared towards supporting bilingualism, including the use of Welsh in the retail, food and drink sectors and also guidance on recruitment considerations, bilingual marketing and most recent guidance on bilingual social media. The Welsh Government has also launched a free service to small business, offering support on developing bilingual branding and communications.
A Bilingual Workforce
One of the most efficient means of initiating, maintaining and developing a bilingual function in an organisation is to recruit bilingual staff. It’s not necessary to have a dedicated Welsh language team, dealing solely with clients whose language preference is the Welsh language. By recruiting Welsh speakers into customer facing and/or other key positions, you very efficiently increase your customer offering and service proposition. One bilingual individual can perform two functions because they can conduct the same role in both languages.
The Commissioner herself believes that increasing the use of Welsh in the workplace would increase the use of Welsh in general and would improve the skill level of the workforce; and in relation to social media communication, she has argued that “Using the Welsh Language in social media is also an opportunity to think about recruiting a member of staff or volunteers with Welsh language skills in order to ensure that you have the internal capacity to create bilingual content.”
Providing a Welsh service can be your Unique Selling Point. You have an opportunity to develop your bilingual brand identity and reach new customers. National research has shown that only 12% of businesses had a complete Welsh language customer service.
Winning and retaining Public Sector contracts
The new era of statutory Welsh Language Standards and compliance means that contractors who can demonstrate bilingual capacity will have an advantage in tendering for public service contracts. For companies based in Wales, it is far easier to recruit a Welsh speaker, which in itself strengthens your position in retaining tenders at renewal. We can also form part of your tendering team.
Providing bilingual customer service enhances the entire customer service proposition; offering the service in the language of the consumer’s choice. It demonstrates a stronger commitment to customer service.
Having bilingual staff in place also provides a virtuous circle of repeat business, an internal culture of bilingualism giving confidence to other staff members to use or develop their Welsh and increases consumer confidence and brand identity.