HR departments play a crucial role in facilitating the effective delivery and implementation of workplace English learning programs, and thus must make informed decisions about what these programs will look like. This article outlines why a consultant could be the answer to your HR department’s prayers!
Investments in Workplace English Learning
Most large companies across the non-English-speaking world invest vast amounts of time and money in English language courses for their employees. Thanks to the inexhaustible need for investment in this kind of training, the market boasts an impressive (and almost similarly inexhaustible) number of options.
English Language course options
- Those taught at traditional, bricks-and-mortar language school in-person and on-site;
- Online platforms of every variety or, a good old-fashioned private teacher who will drop in to the office or home of the student according to whatever is required.
Each course will use any number of different methodologies, teaching systems and means of assessment.
Interestingly, it is rare to find a large company that will look upon their investment in language training as central to their business’s growth.There is a recognition that workplace English language learning is important, but it is still often regarded as something “nice to have” rather than something necessary to have. This mentality creates less than ideal environments for employees who need English language training to boost their performance and overall effectiveness at work.
Are HR departments failing to hit the mark?
Until today, a common strategy used by the HR department that is usually tasked with dealing with the ‘problem’ of low English proficiency amongst employees has been to provide a stipend to deserving/entitled candidates that helps pay for an English course at an approved school.
This kind of lazy thinking may look good on paper, but in the long term most companies have found this to be a wasted investment. It is the list of ‘approved’ schools and the method used to compile the list that best illustrates this problem.
Companies end up with five or six schools – sometimes more – nominally providing the same service, i.e. language teaching. But this is not comparing apples with apples, since there are many variables that need to be considered, the least important of which is the price of the course.
What are the questions to consider?
In the midst of a company’s rush to ‘approve’ a course, HR departments have some important questions to consider, like:
How is the student evaluated and how often?
What are our expectations?
Can I compare the results of School A with Online Provider B, School B and School C?
Failing to ask these questions creates a huge variation in results and, in the absence of objective parameters, no one within the company knows how to get its employees to the required level of English.
The result is that a lot of time and money is wasted trying to find the right course, at the right price for services rendered and with the desired results. It is a demoralising, Sisyphean process.
Do your research. Remove doubt!
Consultancies to the rescue!
An ideal solution to this futile scenario is to be found in the form of consultancies that specialise in the management of language training programs.
Consultancies aim to do the following:
- Organize their client’s projects
- Bring in levels of standardisation
- Implement a strategic vision of the overall language project
- Optimise resources and;
- Ensure a timely return on investment.
In addition, consultants strategically manage workplace English language programs, giving back the company’s HR department the time to focus on their true areas of expertise.
A professional in human resources will be able to liaise with the consultant to analyse their reports and make informed, strategic decisions more readily.
What direction a might a consultant take?
The consultants begin their work by mapping out the standard of English of the employees who will be taking on a course. This usually involves written tests and face-to-face interviews, and marking in based on the six-level Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scale.
At the same time, they will have selected high-quality, credible course providers for these candidates to attend, thereby eliminating waste and improving RoI.
It is the responsibility of the consultant to carry out an analysis of the course curricula provided by the selected schools.
Armed with this information, they can then apply a level scale adjustment so that all the courses are reported to a unified standard. This allows HR to compare progress and evolution of learning across all approved courses. Further, it ensures a level of quality control and continuity that would otherwise be lacking.
Finally, a good consultant will conduct an analysis of each employee’s English language learning needs.
This data is based upon the individual’s initial test results, and helps guide them towards choosing the best course. It also determines how long they will have to take the course to achieve their desired level, and how much the company will invest in each person.
Climb to the top of the pyramid!
Project Control by HR
Used together, these measures bring the whole language project under the total control of an HR department that can then define the beginning, duration and completion of the program.
HR can also determine the intermediate stages of the action plan, including monitoring the participant’s progress, as one would hope to be able to do on any project taken on by the company.
For the record, in our many years of experience, companies adopting this strategy have experienced substantial cost reductions in their outlays for workplace English language training. What is more, they also saw a significant improvement in overall results!
Want to know more about how to optimise corporate workplace English training solutions for your business? Feel free to get in touch!
Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil
Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language