The coming years labor shortage due to small cohorts is a ticking time bomb under the growth strategy for the Danish labor market. Our ability to attract – and retain – foreign workers will be a crucial factor going forward. In this regard the Danish language plays a much more important role than previously assumed.
Even before you welcome an insourced foreign employee, you have already invested time and effort in recruitment. Once the employee has been welcomed, you invest more time and effort in familiarizing the employee with your company’s values, policies, systems and the many new tasks and areas of work. Hiring a foreign employee is a big and hopefully good investment for your company. However, how good the investment turns out to be depends on how long the employee stays in Denmark. Here the employee’s Danish language skills and knowledge of Danish culture play a major – and often crucial – role.
In international companies and organizations, communication is often effortless across different nationalities – in English. Therefore, the employee’s lack of Danish language skills does not seem to be a problem. However, it is important to note that a lack of Danish language skills can often be a contributing factor in the employee’s decision to move on later. There are several reasons for this.
Danish in everyday life
Even when the company language is English, a large number of social activities at Danish companies are conducted in Danish as well as smaltalk at the coffee machine. In addition, outside the workplace, employees face language challenges, for example in shopping situations, in written communication with authorities or in dialog with educators and other parents in daycare centers and schools. In addition, a common language provides a sense of belonging and being part of a community, which in turn helps to retain the employee in Denmark and in the company. The employee’s knowledge of the Danish language can thus be a contributing factor to the company achieving a return on investment.