Article: Driving engagement in a language training program

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Driving engagement in a language training program

Here are the key actionable methods for improving employee engagement in global English language programs.
Driving engagement in a language training program

Driving higher engagement is a persistent challenge while developing talent and it has never been more relevant than today. COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the shift to blended and fully online learning programs and in Asia in particular, these new ways of working and learning are the emerging paradigm. 

But how do you know if your training program is effective if you are not in the room when learning is taking place? Why do some training programs work well, and others fail? How can training leaders help employees stay focused and motivated on language learning when they have so many other distractions in a remote working environment? 

If you are struggling with the answer to any of these questions, read on. We will review strategies for improving engagement, including five actionable methods for managers to boost participation after a language training program has been implemented.

Nothing impacts a company’s financial health and profitability like employee engagement

In this post-pandemic context, a recent global survey that the most pressing strategic priorities for learning and development (L&D) professionals right now are to:

  • Better evaluate the impact of learning
  • Increase engagement
  • Enable self-directed online learning

High engagement is particularly important when the focus is on improved outcomes, productivity, and employee satisfaction. Recent studies suggest that poor engagement in L&D affects loyalty, retention, and business outcomes:

  • Only 20% of employees are engaged at work
  • Only 31% of employees report being totally committed to their employers
  • Only 10% of organizations measure engagement continuously
  • Only 15% of a manager’s time is spent on promoting employee engagement
  • The value of good employee engagement in learning programs cannot be overestimated– The Harvard Business Review finds that employees that are satisfied with their work environments are more productive, more likely to stay, and more attracted to their company over competitors.

Define language training program success by employee engagement

Clearly driving higher engagement is paramount for the success of a training program. And while there is no one silver bullet, there are concrete engagement methods to reach goals faster. A successful training program requires time, effort, reliable research, and an ability to show a return on investment (ROI). Therefore, it is important that engagement does not fall by the wayside. But fear not, kindling the fire of employee engagement need not be a constant struggle. 

Once a language training program is implemented, the most successful organizations offer instruction that is personalized and adaptive to the needs of learners to sustain motivation. For language training programs, intrinsic factors – like a focus on diversity and inclusion, industry-specific training, and content that is interesting and reflective of the real world – can also impact engagement.

Let’s explore five ways to boost employee engagement...

Begin with the end in mind

There is an old saying by renowned psychologist Fitzhugh Dodson that still rings true today – “Without goals and a plan to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail without a destination.” Each language training should start with a goal and a plan for achieving it. Your goal(s) should align with company objectives. And don’t forget to measure! Team leaders should reach a consensus about which metrics will determine the success of a language training program. 

Examples of success metrics include demonstrated performance improvements in communication ability, average scores on satisfaction surveys, and evidence of on-the-job language use. For example, a presentation and/or email correspondence can be benchmarked and compared against future work to quantify the value of the language training. Setting, measuring, and achieving such specific goals will also increase engagement with training and job satisfaction. 

Offer employees an incentive

Incentives can help employees or other language training program participants to stay for the long run. 

Discuss potential options for incentives with employees to determine what is most valuable to them. Ideas could include:  

  • Tying employee progress in with a program that includes performance reviews
  • Offer company-wide recognition, certificates, and/or awards for completion of important milestones. 
  • Post leaderboards in the office to encourage friendly competition among learners. 
  • You might also consider financial rewards and opportunities for promotion for employees that are particularly motivated by remuneration, like salespeople. 

Consider the case of CENIBRA, a leading global pulp manufacturer based in Brazil, which has successfully increased employee engagement in its language program. CENIBRA has significantly increased engagement in its language program by consistently tracking employee performance. The company also acknowledged the top five performing employees in the monthly company newsletter. The top-performing employees also received credit for a one-hour private lesson, which also led to improved proficiency levels.

Innovate your language program with microlearning.

In its simplest form, microlearning is a method of learning that delivers information in smaller and easier-to-digest formats. Yet, microlearning isn’t just bite-sized training.  

Microlearning is hyper-personalized and offers the right amount of information in the right amount of time to help learners achieve specific goals. Microlearning activates working memory capacity and gives only enough information to help learners achieve a specific objective.  

In language training programs, microlearning has the ability to make a significant impact on employee engagement. In fact, according to a report by Software Advice, microlearning increases employee engagement by up to 50%.

For L&D managers looking to make a big impact, microlearning makes use of shortening attention spans, encourages employee engagement, and helps demonstrate an ROI through improved employee productivity.

Choose a flexible program.

In many global organizations, employees are spread across varying time zones and synchronous in-person training is therefore not usually an option for ongoing training efforts. Employees need the flexibility to study at different times and locations if they hope to stay on track with their goals.

Forbes Magazine reports learners that had access to virtual instruction had better control over their own learning, enabling them to work at their own pace when compared to face-to-face only classes. According to a survey conducted of nearly 400 employees, 50% indicated they would use their company’s learning tools more if the courses were shorter. 

Allocating a dedicated space and time for employees to learn is also imperative. As this is not easily achievable on job sites or during working hours, companies can improve engagement by offering web and mobile language learning applications. These tools empower learners to practice when it is convenient – during lunch, a commute, or another downtime. 

Consider blending virtual live instruction with asynchronous online training to make your program more accessible and improve the value of the precious time available for live instruction.

Provide personalized and real-world content.

Practice makes perfect. And to keep engagement up, the content offered to employees should be relevant to their daily lives. You will boost employee engagement by providing relevant and personalized content that is specific to employee roles and goals. Language training works best when learners can practice with content that is interesting, relevant, and can be immediately applied. For example, Pearson Online English uses familiar media like news articles, videos, tweets, etc. and converts them into English lessons.

Transform the way you deliver language learning 

You now have five proven tips to make your language training program a success. Now what? 

Put them to the test with Pearson Online English, a web and mobile language learning platform that gives people the real-world skills they need to succeed in their real-world careers. 

Backed by machine learning algorithms, it enables employers to: 

  • Provide personalized learning experiences for each employee, with a wide range of authentic English content from technology to finance to hospitality. 
  • Offer measurable evidence of improved English communication skills with virtual instructor-led training and comprehensive assessments. 
  • Easily measure and track performance data that help them make better business decisions.
  • Drive better engagement, higher proficiency gains, and increase overall productivity at work among English language learners.  

Pearson Online English is an all-in-one solution for transforming English skills according to your organization’s needs. 

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