Rewarding Language Education: Career Advancement and More
Learning a second (or even third) language can open up many professional doors. If you work in a large, global organization, especially within the European Union, you will likely be required to communicate and work alongside colleagues in different regions. Multilingual employees have the ability to communicate effectively across international borders, making them prime candidates for promotion over their monolingual colleagues.
We know the merits of a linguistically diverse workforce. But as an HR professional, how do you incentivize your employees to build their language skills? How do you make it attractive for them to participate in your language training program?
Promote the Applicability of Your Program
Before you begin designing your program, take time to learn about the specific needs of your employees. This can be done by soliciting feedback through a company-wide survey. Identify the language deficiencies in your workforce, and discover which skills your staff feel they need to advance their careers.
Then, design your program in response to those real-world gaps. When promotional materials are sent out, ensure that (anonymous) data gleaned from the employee surveys is included. This will show that your company has been listening and thoughtfully designing a program in response to the collective needs of your staff.
Raises or other monetized enticements are often the first type of reward thought of in the workplace. Show your staff how learning a second language could lead to a promotion or a raise, or increased responsibility by leading a project in the new language area. To inspire them, try sharing articles or personal stories about how others have grown in their careers by learning an additional language.
Although money is a strong and influential motivator, it isn’t the only type of reward system that can be deployed in a corporate setting.
Employees are also motivated by praise from their superiors. Something as simple as public recognition could be highly motivating. For example, you could send out a company-wide email to recognize a learner who used their new language skills to overcome a workplace challenge.
Employees today place a high value on professional development. Providing opportunities to take on new responsibilities due to a new skillset can also incentivize staff.
Make Learning Social
A study of Italian language learners found that the most motivated and engaged participants where those who fostered a social connection to other members of their group. Make learning social by placing people in classes with others who share their interests or specific learning needs. It could be also helpful to group learners across corporate levels, so that the time spent learning the language could also be seen as an opportunity to network. When designing your program, build in opportunities for learners to interact with each other via discussions or group work.
Learning an additional language can vastly improve one’s career trajectory. Demonstrating that can be the key to gaining participation in your language training program. Be sure you show your employees that you were listening by designing a program that addresses the real professional challenges they’re facing. Then, promote participation in your language program by emphasizing the professional rewards of language learning, such as increased professional responsibility, internal recognition and networking opportunities.
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Are you interested in learning more about the link between language learning and business success? Read our article about the ROI of multilingual employees.
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