Faculty Publications - College of Business

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Purpose: Organizations have been challenged to identify antecedents to improved employee adjustment to the work environment changes that arose in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This study explores the effect of multilingualism on employee ability to adjust to workplace changes based on the concept that multilinguals have been found to switch between tasks more efficiently as compared to monolinguals. Methodology: Applying a sequential explanatory mixed methods research approach, quantitative performance evaluation data on 207 credit union employees is analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling to predict employee performance, and thematic analysis of qualitative data representing the adjustment narratives of six monolingual and six multilingual employees within the sample is conducted, corresponding to the period during which employees were adjusting to broad workplace changes after the onset of the global pandemic. Findings: Results suggest greater predicted improvement in the performance of multilingual employees. Reliance on the task-switching ability associated with multilingualism is found to be the primary self-evaluative factor for successful change adjustment among multilingual employees. Implications: In light of work performance benefits identified in this study, organizations may consider multilingualism as a characteristic preceding better adjustment to organizational change, and not simply as a skill applicable to tasks requiring language proficiency, suggesting practical implications for HR and organizational management. Originality/Value: This is the first sequential explanatory study focusing on the task-switching ability of multilinguals as an antecedent to change adjustment evidenced by improved work performance within an organizational context.


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Originally published by Emerald Insight:

Veach, T., Yoon, Y. and Iglesias, J.D. (2022), "Do multilingual employees better adjust to work environment changes? Examining the case of a credit union during the COVID-19 pandemic", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-01-2022-3115

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