Almost all organisations (98%) who participated in the 4th Annual Speexx Exchange survey in December 2015 agreed that good communications are ‘very important’ or ‘important’ for the success of their business. Almost a quarter (24%) thought intercultural differences had a negative impact, while 21% cited lack of foreign language skills among employees.
Yet, despite the palpable shift in focus and the clearly visible need for better communications, most businesses are failing to prioritise the need for effective communication capabilities. More often than not, this shortcoming is less about technical factors and more about human issues.
The technology is in place and yet…
Technological innovation has made it quite straightforward to provide the latest e-learning from the cloud to mobile devices throughout the world. The technology is there – but we can’t always say the same about management support for communication skills development. This was cited by business leaders surveyed by Speexx as their major obstacle (27%). Meanwhile, only 12% of respondents thought technical obstacles were getting in the way.
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How to close the skills gap
So what can fast-growing companies do in order to prioritise on closing the gap on their employees´ skill gap?
- Put in place a consistent way of assessing language and communication capabilities. Don’t take paper qualifications or local ESL (English as a second language) assessments at face value. Instead, implement consistent, tried and tested assessment that will provide a true picture of current skills and a foundation on which to build future skills.
- Use learning technologies such as e-learning and mobile learning as part of a broader provision of blended learning that also includes peer mentoring and coaching. Peer-to-peer learning might include pairing an employee with another employee who has the target language skill. One study revealed that 77% of companies believed learning technologies would help them respond faster to changing business conditions. It also found that organisations are looking at learning technologies to reduce training costs (83%).
- Capitalise on learner data. E-learning modules for training on language and communication skills provide a wealth of talent analytics capability, making it easy to check how learners are progressing and support them individually. This type of personalised approach will not only keep learners on track towards gaining the skills that the business needs, but it will also contribute towards engaging individual employees and retaining valuable employees in the business. Capitalising on learner data is also an opportunity HR Managers to easily report on the ROI of the company’s learning programmes.
Empower your business growth
Business leaders who remain unconvinced of the benefits of a more sophisticated, personalised approach may be interested to learn that a Deloitte study found share prices of the 14% of organisations with mature talent analytics capabilities outpaced the American S&P 500 stock market index by 30%, on average, over a recent three-year period.
The data speaks clearly – the lack of strong communication skills, whether it comes to language or cultural awareness, pushes the break in a company’s way to faster growth and effective reach of business goals. With more effective language and communication skills, businesses are well placed to work with new partners, suppliers and service new customers around the world.
Organizations that empower communication skills not only gain a significant competitive advantage over those retaining local, silo-based solutions, but also pave the way to higher employee retention rates and lower organisational costs.