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Business Management

Armin Hopp (Global) - Language Training in a Diverse Workforce

In an increasingly globalized corporate environment, the need for soft skills such as effective communication is more crucial to business growth than ever before. A study contracted by the European Commission Directorate General for Education and Culture revealed that a significant proportion of European companies are losing export business through lack of language skills and intercultural skills. The study suggested that increasing investment to develop language skills would produce far-reaching economic benefits, especially in terms of a positive impact on productivity and export performance.

For many companies looking to expand their operations or revenue streams, multilingual communication can be an asset within all activities, not only for sales and marketing. Effective cross-border communication can help solve problems, avoid delays and enhance productivity across all sectors. Although English retains its leading role as the world business language, other languages can also provide companies with a competitive advantage.

Over seven million users today are already incorporating language learning as part of their talent management programs, which nurtures staff from the ground up. However more organizations should take the opportunity this year to look over their recruitment policies, training strategies, and their principles for international mobility to help fill in potential skills shortages.

So if you are looking to integrate language learning within your organization where do you start?

1.    Assess: Conduct a thorough assessment of staff language and communication skills across the board. This comes in the form of an organization-wide language test as well as a self-assessment. Most organizations are surprised to see results which are often lower than expected, revealing that their staff are actually not up to the challenge of businesses dealings within a global workforce as they had thought.

2.    Identify and improve: Identify the levels of communication within the organization. Questions to ask are: Who are the key people within the organization? Where is the talent? What is the best way to address their skills? Then managers also need to work together to improve the language and communication skills – by providing flexible support within the organization. Furthermore virtual and e-learning tools are great in distributing and providing knowledge in an effective way to those staff not located in the same place – or same time zone.

3.    Set yourself apart: An organization who chooses a blended learning solution will achieve far more effective results than those who simply purchase a library of resources, through which the students must sift and find their way. A streamlined and blended learning approach includes a skill gap analysis, which includes identifying who needs training and when, what it will take to achieve results and predicting how long it will take.

4.    Achieve success: Success can be visible once the organization realises there is less staff turnover. Leadership development, career development, talent management and staff satisfaction all stem from having not only the requisite technical skills, but soft skills such as communication and multi-linguism.

An organization with an all-inclusive work culture that embraces diversity and effectively integrates multilingual and multicultural workers will ultimately open its doors to better business. Success lies in an organization’s ability to provide their diverse workforce with the requisite resources to achieve their language goals. The task now for organizations is to take time to find the right measures to develop a perfect blend of learning within a company, encourage staff to use and to develop the skills they have already acquired and offer language training in ways that are both motivating and compatible with the needs of the workplace.

By Armin Hopp, founder and president of Digital Publishing.

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