8 ways language training can transform your business

Pearson Languages
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Reading time: 5 minutes

Around 20% of the world's population speaks English, making it an integral component in global business operations. But the question remains for business leaders and HR professionals: how can language learning, specifically, business English courses, drive your organization forward? Here are 8 ways language training can impact your business.

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1) Foster career growth

Beyond the essential international workplace communication aspect, proficiency in English is considered critical for career opportunities. Employees overwhelmingly believe that English language proficiency is linked to earning potential—with 80% stating its importance in determining future earnings.

2) Close skills gaps

Furthermore, there's evidence ofskills gap between the English taught in formal education and the language needed in the work environment. Addressing this gap through targeted workplace English programs can enable employees to be more effective in their roles, positioning your company ahead of the curve.

3) Boost confidence using English at work

The statistics spotlight a concerning chasm. Only 25% of professionals feel fully confident using all four key English language skills—listening, reading, speaking and writing—in their roles. Plus, a whopping 54% said that their formal education did not give them good enough English proficiency for work. This gap between formal education and real-world requirements signals an urgent need for tailored workplace language programs.

4) Improve employee engagement and satisfaction

9 out of 10 employees consider it crucial for employers to develop and offer language training, yet only a third currently have access to it. This closely mirrors other Pearson research conducted in 2022, revealing that over 60% of organizations lack a language training program or strategy.

According to Gallup, only 23% of employees worldwide are actively engaged at work, while 6 in 10 are “quietly quitting” (meaning they have psychologically disengaged from work). Gallup estimates that this cost to the global economy is around $8.8 trillion each year. So, how satisfied with their jobs were our survey respondents?

Overall, 77% said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their current role. On closer inspection of the data, however, there is a clear correlation between job satisfaction and level of English proficiency, with a 24-point difference between those with the lowest and highest levels of English. Learning and development are a priority for many in the workforce and are particularly important to younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials). 94% of employees say they would stay at their company longer if employers invested in training and development.

5) Enhance your competitive edge

Despite the challenges, language proficiency offers significant rewards. Kris Lynne D. Tinaza, Vice President for Talent Acquisition at MicroSourcing in the Philippines, encourages businesses to prioritize language training as a means of empowering their workforce and enhancing their competitive edge in the global marketplace.

“English – especially spoken fluency – remains a top skill employers seek. When I became a recruiter in 2004, 'near-native' speakers were considered the 'cream of the crop.' Today, across various industries, from simple tasks to niche expertise, 80% of my clients prioritize excellent communication – regardless of the role.”

6) Capitalize on your workforce's learning motivations

Self-service learning methods, such as language apps, online courses, and engaging social media content, are rising in popularity—particularly among the Gen Z workforce, who tend to favor tech-based methods like online games and chat rooms to sharpen their language skills. These modern avenues present a golden opportunity for businesses to integrate flexible yet structured language learning pathways into their employee enrichment strategies.

Isaac Johnson, CEO of EduGuide (Saudi Arabia), says:

“English language training around the world has never been in such high demand. In Saudi Arabia in particular, the ambitious goals of Vision 2030 make English an essential skill for the future of the Kingdom. High-quality English training that uses technology to personalize learning should be the standard for every HR department and educational institution these days.”

Invest in transferrable skills

Learning English for work isn't just a skill upgrade—it's a transformative investment that reshapes employees' professional personas and personal lives. This transformation leads to improved international communication, collaboration, and stronger relationships across the board.

Angeline Verzosa-Cayago, PhD, Director of Language Learning at De La Salle University-Dasmarinas, says:

“English language learning is not solely the concern of students and teachers alike, but employers and staff. Knowing how valuable the English language is in cultivating professionalism and fostering professional and international relations, English proficiency level is pivotal in concretely identifying the ability of professionals in effectively communicating in a variety of settings and contexts.”

7) Strengthen workplace relationships

The direct link between well-trained, confident, satisfied employees and enhanced business profitability cannot be overlooked. When staff and team members are proficient learners of English and feel content within their roles, it catalyzes a positive ripple effect throughout the organization. A proficient workforce means smoother internal team communications, fewer misunderstandings, and more efficient teamwork on projects with global partners. Currently, 31% are learning English to build better workplace relationships.

Additionally, happier employees are more invested in their work, leading to decreased turnover rates and lower recruitment costs.

8) Reduce churn and improve retention

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost of hiring a new employee can exceed $4,700, not accounting for the time and resources spent on training and integration into the company.

This figure highlights the significance and significant benefits of investing in language training and development programs as not only a method to enhance employee satisfaction and retention, but also as a strategic approach to mitigate the high costs associated with employee turnover.

By prioritizing English proficiency and other relevant skill sets, businesses can considerably reduce the frequency of recruitment cycles, thereby saving on these substantial costs in the long run.

These factors combined lead to a more agile and resilient business capable of adapting to market changes and seizing new opportunities. Ultimately, investing in employee satisfaction and language proficiency is not merely an expense but a strategic manoeuvre that pays dividends through superior output and heightened profitability.

A call to action for business leaders

Now, the pathway to leveraging these benefits is clearer than ever. Employers are encouraged to offer on-the-job language training and to recognize the broader merits of linguistic versatility among employees, even when their initial proficiency may not meet conventional benchmarks.

Reviewing existing criteria for measuring language proficiency is a sage step for HR professionals looking to develop and refine their teams' communicative prowess. Providing language training to promising applicants can yield a high return on investment, particularly if they possess other crucial skills your business needs.

Discover the transformative power of English training

For an in-depth understanding of how business English skills can catalyze business growth and employee advancement, download our research paper 'How English Empowers Your Tomorrow'. It contains valuable insights into the English proficiency landscape and its impact on global business practices, offering a roadmap for integration into your talent development strategies.

Where to start

Pearson is here to support your business with flexible, relevant solutions, including the leading Global Scale of English (GSE), the Pearson Connected English Learning Program, Versant by Pearson language testing, and Mondly by Pearson online learning solutions.

Read more about our suite of tools and programs. Empower your workforce, inspire your leaders and connect your business to the world. Start by speaking the language of global opportunity—start your business’s English journey now.

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