The Impact of Language Learning on Employee Satisfaction
So we’ve been doing this for a while.
Quite a while actually.
One thing we’ve noticed more often than not, is that employees have goals, dreams and aspirations, far beyond just working a 9 to 5 at a company.
This will come as no surprise of course, but one thing we also noticed is that a significant amount of employees who have been through our language courses mentioned that learning a language was also high on their list of personal goals.
This pattern has come up again and again. So much so that my team suggested I write this article to attempt to highlight the trend so that it may be of use to managers and employees alike.
Ask your employees about their personal goals
If you are able to uncover the fact that one or many of your staff have a personal aspiration to learn or improve in a language e.g. Spanish, you immediately have an opportunity to significantly improve not only their overall satisfaction in their role, but also reduce the likelihood they’ll leave your employ.
How is this?
As you will know, most employees are there not only for the paycheck at the end of the month, but also to do the best they can in their role, feel fulfilled, supported, that they are doing meaningful work and contributing to something worthwhile.
Supported employees are happy employees
Before jumping into this section I want to stress that this isn’t an advert for our services or any other service or offering. I just wanted to present these facts and attempt to make sense of the reasons why employees had such an overall positive response to something seemingly innocuous on the face of it.
As I say, supported employees are happy employees. The key word here is supported.
Numerous studies have concluded that employees who feel supported are more likely to remain with the company.
There are many ways to support your employees, having supportive managers is a must, as is listening and uncovering the multifarious personal goals and aspirations of each individual through regular appraisals and more ad-hoc feedback sessions.
The thing is, each employee is an individual person, there’s no one size fits all strategy to looking after them.
Language learning as a win-win scenario
Which leads us nicely onto the subject of language learning.
We surveyed our learners, each who had lessons paid for by their employers.
Over 66% told us that learning the language they were studying was on their list of personal goals as well!
This is insane. And shocked us a little.
The fact is that, by paying for language lessons for an employee, you are helping them to achieve their own personal goals, while simultaneously improving your employees’ overall satisfaction with their job, and also helping them learn a useful skill that may also be useful for their role as well.
It’s a win-win situation. Even if learning the target language isn’t exactly needed for their role, the ancillary benefits such as increased satisfaction and reduced turnover of staff, far outweigh the cost associated with offering this kind of training.
We wanted to uncover some more of the reasons why employees felt their lessons benefited them so much. Over and above helping them in their role.
3 reasons employees give for their satisfaction with language lessons
- They are learning a useful skill that goes beyond just their job
- They are achieving something that is on their personal priorities list
- They can take time out of work to learn
Employees can learn a useful skill that goes beyond just their job
Again, this comes down to the individual employees themselves feeling supported. The job of the managers is to attract and retain the best talent while simultaneously creating an environment that enables them to carry out their best work and be the most productive versions of themselves.
Language training isn’t the silver bullet that enables all this of course. But it can be a very quick win for those employees who you already know have a personal goal of learning a language.
Employees are achieving something on their personal priorities list
This is where both employer and employee can effectively win. One of the previously identified personal goals of the employee is to learn a language. And one of the goals of the HR team, employer or manager is to promote and engender employee satisfaction so employees are the most productive versions of themselves.
Language training ticks both of these boxes if you’ve been able to ascertain through appraisals or other means that your employees have language learning as a personal goal.
Employees can take time out of work to learn
Let’s face it, there’s nothing like getting your personal goals fulfilled whilst at work. Especially when your boss is ok with it!
It’s a win-win for both sides.
We have noticed that far from being something that employees do ‘during work hours’ taking them off the job for the time they’re learning. Employees actually make up the time elsewhere, even to the point of feeling indebted to the company for giving them the opportunity.
A lot of the learners we spoke to appreciated the opportunity to learn during the working day. Making up the time elsewhere, with no noticeable reduction in productivity.
Happy, supported employees are productive employees. And that’s certainly what we have found.
A final word – Offering language lessons to staff is an incredibly cost-effective strategy
Again, I must stress that this isn’t an advert for any particular service or offering. I wanted to present the facts as we’ve experienced them and try to make sense of what we’ve found.
Looking at different types of corporate training, it turns out that per head, language training is one of the most cost-effective forms of training out there.
In fact, we would go as far as to say that it is the single most cost-effective solution any company can implement to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Particularly if language learning has come up in appraisals or during conversation with managers as a personal goal of the employee.
Allow lessons to take place during the working day and your employees will feel grateful and make up the time elsewhere.
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Founder of the UK Language Project and avid language learner.
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