Are English Classes a Practical Fit for Your Business?
In today’s workforce there continues to be a growing number of workers who have emigrated from other countries, and this trend will continue for decades to come. The United States Census Bureau predicts that there will be between 39 and 43 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. by 2020.
This number has increased 233% since 1980 and as of 2012 there were 38 million Spanish-speaking people in the U.S.
Today, there are fewer and fewer organizations throughout the country that do not have some employee population whose first language is not English. HR Magazine conducted an interview with employers and identified many reasons why English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in the workplace make sense and have a positive impact on the bottom line. Among the most common (findings from study are noted below in bold):
Improve compliance with safety and other policies: What does it cost an employer for each accident on the job, or each employee lawsuit?
Boost worker productivity by improving comprehension: What does it cost when a task must be redone because the worker did not understand instructions…and did not admit it or ask for help?
Ensure that workers understand pay and benefits: What is the cost of misunderstandings resulting in poor morale, performance, and turnover?
Improve customer service: Can you track “ungained business” when a customer hangs up the phone in frustration and calls your competitor instead?
Prevent waste resulting from worker error: What is the cost for each manufacturing error if it gets detected in time…and if it doesn’t?
Enhance communication and relationships among workers and managers: It is well documented that ”engaged” employees who respect their managers are more loyal to the company and are more productive.
Improve recruitment and retention: Immigrants are known to be hard workers and, contrary to many employers’ beliefs, are more loyal and less likely to leave for more money when their employer has helped them improve their English on the job. Historically they are a fertile recruiting source for additional workers of the same high caliber as well.
Help low-wage workers improve earning and productivity potential: How much does it cost to advertise for, interview and train new managers rather than promote proven and loyal employees who can fill the job?
Plan for future workforce needs: As noted earlier, the number of non-English speaking workers is rising, and will probably continue to do so. Having a plan in place will help to ease any future potential communication barriers.
Comparing the cost of English language training with costs associated with product recalls, lawsuits, error correction, high turnover, non-compliance, it’s clear the benefits of English language training are a good insurance policy for any business.