Resources for HR Professionals

Language Training Benefits for All Workers

Let’s clear up a misconception about corporate language training. Sometimes we hear from companies that believe language training only benefits employees who work at a desk. But that’s not the full story. At Fluency Corp, we teach employees at all levels — from the warehouse to the C-suites. And we love seeing how increased language fluency benefits not just blue-collar workers but also the companies they work for. Want to learn more? Read on!

For more ways to help your employees
learn a new language, check out our blog.

Benefits of Language Training for Blue-Collar Workers

A blue-collar job is commonly defined as one in which the employee performs manual or trade-related labor. Some common blue-collar jobs include custodians, mechanics, food service workers, drivers, electricians, painters, plumbers, people who work in a factory, people who work on a line, people who have shift work and welders, not to mention all the people who supervise or manage them.

“Blue collar” is not synonymous with “low-skilled.” Some blue-collar jobs require highly specialized training. It’s also a misconception that it’s always easy to fill blue-collar positions. There’s huge demand for these workers, which means companies need to think just as seriously about engaging and retaining blue-collar workers as they do white-collar employees. And one of the most effective ways to engage and retain employees at any level is to help them learn and grow. Learning new skills, or deepening current ones, creates a greater sense of meaning and purpose in any job. Language training also improves engagement and retention by helping blue-collar employees feel valued. Employees have become less likely to believe that their company cares about them as a person, according to Gallup. But language training shows that the company values an employee enough to invest in them.

Improving engagement and retention is not the only reason to offer language training for your company’s blue-collar workforce. It also helps employees contribute to their full potential. When they’re fluent in their workplace’s dominant language, or the language they would need to move up in the company, employees feel more comfortable speaking up with ideas or feedback. Additionally, it’s easier for them to collaborate with their colleagues.

We often hear from prospective clients who are looking for ways to improve workplace safety in their blue-collar operations. In a recent survey by Safety + Health magazine, 99% of manufacturing and warehouse employees — one of the largest groups of blue-collar workers — said they notice a potential workplace hazard at least once a week. And more than a third of those workers said they see possible hazards at least three times a week.

If there are language differences in a workforce, common steps to improve safety — such as responding more quickly to hazards, communicating with employees about those hazards and providing information about personal protective equipment — are more difficult.

How to Select Blue-Collar Employees for Language Training

At this point, you might be thinking, “Language training sounds great. But how do we afford it?” Of course, we would love to see every company with a multilingual workforce provide language training to every single employee. But, speaking practically, we understand that tight L&D budgets can often be a barrier to language training for your blue-collar workforce. This doesn’t mean, though, that you have to abandon the idea. Instead, think strategically:

  • Who among your blue-collar employees would have the most profound effect on their co-workers if they received language training?
  • Are there any current supervisors you wish had greater language skills that would motivate others to improve as well?
  • Are there blue-collar employees you would consider promoting into management if they had greater language fluency, and who also want to be promoted and who want to be in management?

When you have some candidates in mind, talk with them about topics like these:

  • Do they aspire to have a higher position and more responsibilities at your company? Where do they see themselves in five years?
  • Do they want to improve their fluency in their second language?
  • Do they have a couple of hours each week to devote to language classes and can they attend at least 85% of the time?

Do a thorough job of gathering information before you decide which employees will receive language training. This is a serious investment, and you want to choose the right people.

10 Secrets to Managing your Multilingual / Global Workforce

Choosing Language Training for Blue-Collar Workers

The other key factor that determines the ROI of language training for your blue-collar employees is the quality of the training provider you select. Some criteria for choosing a language training program are universal.

For example, instructors who are native speakers of the language being taught are more effective than non-native speakers. But there are a couple of factors that are especially important when you are choosing language training for blue-collar workers.

First, language lessons must be relevant to their jobs. It’s not very efficient, for example, to send your warehouse staff to the same language classes as your marketing team. Their vocabulary needs are just too different.

Second, flexibility takes on additional importance for blue-collar workers. In settings like manufacturing, employees may be more likely to work shifts outside of typical business hours. They need language classes that fit into their schedule and don’t take valuable time away from their work or personal lives.

Blue-Collar Language Training in Action

What does successful language-training for blue-collar workers look like? Check out our case study from the hotel-cleaning business. The employer chose their top employees with the most potential, and then they signed them up for three months to one year of private English tutoring held at a convenient location for the employees — for example, a coffee shop near their home, at the office or even a trailer at one of the job sites.

The employees dedicated two hours a week to English conversation training focused primarily on their most common daily conversations. They didn’t need a PhD in English; they just needed to be able to communicate effectively! They needed to learn the essentials, and that’s what they concentrated on. Think about your own employees. Whose potential could you unleash with English tutoring?

How Fluency Corp Language Classes Work

Fluency Corp has a long track record of helping companies retain and develop the blue-collar workers who are so essential to their success. Because we have a deep understanding of business needs, we have established courses that you can customize for your workforce.

We know you and your employees value flexibility. That’s why we offer language classes for individuals and small groups in person around the world. Classes are also available online. No matter the format, though, all of our classes are taught by live instructors who are native speakers of the language they are teaching.

And your employees will get plenty of conversational practice.

You can learn more about Fluency Corp by reading our client testimonials and case studies, or exploring what makes our proprietary Bellieu Method unique and effective.

We’d also love to talk with you about how language training can support employee retention and your other business goals. To open the conversation, get in touch with us now.

Get More Info About Our Language Training Resources

We’d love to talk with you more about how we can support your work with global relocations and international collaboration. To get additional information about how Fluency Corp works with HR professionals seeking language training resources, call us for a free consultation at (800) 401-3159 or fill out the form below.

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