The Cost of Communication Barriers

Potential Annual Costs For a Workforce without Adequate English Proficiency

(per 1,000 employees)

Lost productivity:
Additional time to understand, respond to, or consult information in English (average salary: US $50,000)

  • $2,000,000: Reading and writing emails: 2 per day, 10 minutes each
  • $400,000: Reading technical manuals: 20 minutes per week
  • $400,000: Duplicated work due to insufficient comprehension in meetings, 20 minutes per week

Increased organizational support needs:
Checking the work of or assisting non-English speaking employees

  • $600,000: Managers (1:5 manager to staff ratio; US $100,000 salary): 15 minutes per day
  • $100,000: Peers (US $50,000 avg. salary, assumes 15% of staff are proficient): 30 minutes per week

Translation costs:

  • $500,000: Translating training manuals, safety information, company policies, etc.
    Translation at US$0.50/word


Employees who are unable to process and disseminate information quickly and accurately can adversely affect the bottom line. The question is not if a lack of English proficiency impacts operations, but how much it costs a company.


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