Five Unexpected Ways Your Organization Will Benefit By Upskilling with English

As a country, the U.S. meets the needs of only 4% of our adult English language learners.  Our country’s adult education centers, immigrant-serving organizations, and public libraries do their best to reach English learners, but even if they doubled or tripled their capacity, the needle would hardly move for English upskilling. And English remains the most significant barrier New Americans face when they try to get jobs with potential economic mobility, advocate for themselves and their families, and pursue their dreams in the U.S. One way to solve this problem at scale is to reach language learners through their employers Workplace-based English programs can address the 96% of adult English learners who would benefit from instruction, but do not have access to it.

Beyond humanitarian and social responsibility reasons, offering English language training to help develop bilingual employees offers clear, measurable benefits to companies—ones that affect bottom line, ROI, and performance. Below we explore five unexpected ways your organization will benefit by enabling your workforce with English skills:

1. Promotion and Advancement of Incumbent Workers, Lowering Recruiting Costs

Employers often hire large numbers of hard-working, loyal employees who are limited in their career trajectories simply by their lack of English skills. Across industries and sectors, I have heard hiring managers lament that they cannot promote dedicated, diligent incumbent workers because they do not have the English skills to manage their peers, interact with customers, or understand more advanced technical training. Instead of looking within their organizations, these hiring managers recruit external talent, which comes with the cost of interviewing, training, and onboarding new employees, some of whom will not work out. An investment in English training remains far less expensive and a much surer bet than taking a chance on a new employee who might not work out.

2. Improved Levels of Customer Service and Client Satisfaction

It is not just customer service workers and front-of-the-house staff who interact with clients and customers. Imagine the same environmental service workers and groundskeepers who are precluded from promotion by their lack of English skills. They also get asked questions by clients, and when they can speak English, they can positively interact with customers and guests, which improves external relations. And remember that they are learning English in addition to at least one other language that they already speak. When employees can communicate in multiple languages, they are able to connect with even more customers and clients.

3. Improved Compliance with Company and Safety Protocols

Comprehending directions in English improves more than just customer service. Employers are regularly cited for lack of compliance with health and safety regulations because their staff cannot understand them. By offering a workplace English program, employers can ensure that their staff understands the critical safety regulations around, for example, food handling, chemical disposal, equipment safety procedures, and waste disposal. This keeps the workplace safe and in business, protecting both clients and workers.

4. Improved Output

More than simply protecting future business by avoiding costly health and safety mistakes, teaching employees English improves overall output. When employees can understand their managers, their job requirements, and their tasks in English, they become more productive. Instead of wasting time wondering what to do, they can make decisions quickly and in line with company expectations. I recently learned that a large public university needed to hire translators in seven different languages when onboarding seasonal catering staff—they decided to invest in English instruction instead—which will pay for itself in saved translation costs and more engaged, productive employees.

5. Improved Morale and Better Sense of Community Among Employees

While every employer adopts a different mission and vision, they all often desire to create a positive work culture. Establishing an environment that encourages learning, promotion, and professional development remains a clear way to foster the type of culture that attracts and retains employees. Building a sense of community amongst employees by offering an English program serves as a crucial component of creating an inclusive workplace.  

With more open roles than job seekers to fill them, employee recruitment and retention remains the greatest challenge facing employers today.  It’s time to stop excluding talented employees and job seekers from our talent pipelines simply because they do not yet possess the English skills they need.

Interested in learning how EnGen helps organizations and employers to upskill English-language learners? Learn how with a demo from one of our workforce development experts.