Before reading this article, discover more about how language training can improve employee retention and global mobility success by viewing the associated webinar.
Effective language learning to support global mobility and overseas expansion
Senior Language Consultant, Huw Carter
Recent global events have had a powerful impact on global mobility. Organizations of all shapes and sizes continue to look for ways to attract and retain global talent, reduce overheads and avert supply chain issues. This has resulted in increasing numbers of employees working remotely from overseas, or crossing international borders for work. Organizations aiming to attract top talent, expand their business globally and improve retention rates among globally mobile employees should optimize the use of language training as part of their global mobility packages.
What are global mobility packages?
Companies who move employees from one country to another offer services and incentives to support their employees through the process. Global mobility packages provide financial incentives, training and supplementary services that ease the integration process and enable employees to thrive in a new country. They are designed to improve employee stability and to increase poor rates of retention among globally mobile employees.
What’s involved in employee relocation packages?
Companies with the means and scale to sustain an internal team of specialists often manage their global mobility policy, immigration legislation, and cross-border compliance in-house. In other cases, they employ third party service providers to handle logistics for their global employees. However they are managed, relocation packages are both complex and costly. Depending upon personal and family circumstances, companies cite overheads in the range of $2000 – $100,000 (depending upon the employees’ personal and professional circumstances) to cover employee relocation costs.
The contractual obligations of the company typically include the following, often for the employee as well as their family members and even pets:
- Immigration services
- Relocation allowance and/or bonus provision
- Transportation costs
- Long or short term housing arrangements
- Real estate sale and purchasing fees
- Spousal employment assistance
- Support services for finding and/or funding schooling for children
- Integration and cultural assistance
Comprehensive relocation and mobility packages set employees up for success. When employers invest in such benefits, they hope to reduce the rate of failed relocation efforts, which can be costly and time consuming.
The financial implications of failed relocation assignments
It’s estimated that 40% of expat assignments and relocations end in failure or resignation. There are numerous reasons why employees step down from these posts, but in the vast majority of cases it stems from their inability to integrate and settle in a new country. When you consider the cost of relocation, paired with wasted training and recruitment overheads, the financial loss of an unsuccessful assignment can amount to well over $300,000 per employee. Companies who mitigate this loss through thorough language and cultural training invariably see improvements to their retention rates and are able to reap profitable benefits from their investment.
Common challenges of corporate language training
In many organizations with significant global mobility, inadequate language training fails to support global employees. In others, the training programs that are offered fail to account for the flexibility that employees need in order to work learning into their busy schedule or travel commitments. Finally, it’s important for employees to be recognized as they advance, so that it becomes a priority for employees, and is viewed as such by the organization.
When working with companies to improve upon the success of their language training programs for global employees, our consultants at Rosetta Stone notice these common inefficiencies.
- Multiple global providers result in excessive spend and logistics.
In many cases, regional offices contract with local providers to fulfill their language training requirements. When conducting an audit, companies note excessive overheads, and complex vendor management. By choosing a single online provider like Rosetta Stone for Enterprise with the scope and global scale to fulfill every employee’s language training requirements, organizations can significantly drive down costs and provide improved language training access for global employees.
- Face-to-face training models place restrictions on learner access
Although very effective, in-person training requires employees to meet on a fixed schedule and in a physical location. As employees have increasingly shifted to a remote or hybrid work model, location and work commitments can impact their ability to attend every class, and in turn affect their chances of success.
A blended program like Rosetta Stone for Enterprise provides the optimal language learning experience for modern day global employees. It allows them to engage at a time and place of their choice, and to tie language learning into their personal and professional objectives. By combining self paced study with optional Live tutoring, employees benefit from opportunities to interact in real time with native-speaking experts, and to receive personalized instruction and feedback where needed. This builds confidence and fluency, and works in the element of accountability that can fuel learner engagement and accelerate learning progress.
- Language training programs exclude non-employees
In cases where language training is solely offered to employees, companions and family members can struggle to find the support they need, causing undue pressure globally mobile employees. This can affect the integration process, and sometimes diminishes employee satisfaction and success rates. By extending access to companions through a web-based training solution like Rosetta Stone for Enterprise, companies note a positive impact on retention rates and the longevity of global placements.
Is English training enough?
English is certainly the best starting point for frequent business travelers. With proficiency in English under their belt, most people can manage to navigate larger global cities with relative ease. Afterall, there are around 1.5 billion people in the world who speak English, making it the most widely spoken global language.
Nevertheless, as impressive a number as that may sound, it translates into less than 20% of the global population, leaving communication gaps for even the most competent of English speakers.
How do I choose a language training solution?
A structured language training program is integral to supporting employees and their family members through the relocation process and reducing rates of failed relocations. Selecting the best training for employees sets employers apart from others during the hiring process and helps retention during this current job-seekers’ market.
Local language training helps employees and their families to integrate overseas
Local language training can go a long way to improving the ease and efficiency with which you’re able to navigate and form business relationships. Anyone who travels for work can benefit from learning the basics, but for those who plan to move longer term, it’s an essential part of settling in.
It’s impossible to decouple language learning from cultural integration. Language is the touchstone to relationships and connections that instill a sense of stability and belonging in a new city or country. It also enables employees to manage their personal affairs and gather the confidence to navigate and enjoy their new surroundings.
Even with the support of a thriving expat community, employees who feel socially isolated from the locals are less inclined to stay in a country or pursue their position of employment, than those who learn the language and integrate more fully.
With this in mind, it’s incredibly valuable to start local language training as soon as possible and to consider whether or not your organization is taking the best approach.
Improve global mobility success through language training
- Conduct a language audit
Conducting an extensive audit is an important first step towards providing optimal language training support for global employees. By first examining your current spend, existing providers, satisfaction rates and employee training requirements, you’re better placed to identify a single provider that can meet the needs of every employee while providing you better returns on your investment. Organizations that take language training online see a dramatic reduction in spend and complex logistics, and find that employees in every region of the world feel better supported and more motivated to learn.
- Identify the optimal language training provider
With the growing range of online and face-to-face language training options available, it is important to identify a solution that addresses the needs of your company’s global employees. Consider their needs, and try to identify a solution which provides the skills they need to succeed as professionals. When searching for a language training provider, it’s important to consider the following:
- Number of available languages
- Multilevel courses to match the varying needs of global employees
- The scope to deliver content that matches employees’ language learning requirements and expectations
- The ability to scale to the size of your organization, offering access and support to employees across multiple global locations
- Unlimited access to self-paced training and live tutoring
- Integrated assessments to measure language proficiency
- Automated tools to provide a measurement of engagement and progress
- Prioritize spoken fluency
When trying to establish themselves in a new country, the number one language learning priority for your employees will be spoken fluency. It’s important to find a learning solution that enables employees to build confidence and spoken accuracy from the very beginning. Many web-based training solutions focus on rote memorization, rather than building language into meaningful sentences and structures. Rosetta Stone is the exception here, with pronunciation and fluency practice from the very start, and opportunities for more advanced learners to center in on the language usage that best suits their needs.
- Develop a corporate culture of language learning
In order for employees to excel at language learning, they benefit from a corporate environment that prioritizes this kind of professional development for globally mobile employees. By authorizing the time and space for employees to learn, companies experience better outcomes and in turn, higher rates of employee satisfaction and retention. In the most successful cases, language learning is tied into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for global employees so that they are accountable for reaching a certain level of proficiency in advance of their overseas tenure.
Interested to find out more about the best language training solution to improve global mobility success?
Rosetta Stone for Enterprise represents a cost effective way to support your employees in learning the local language and integrating into their new work environment. We have worked with thousands of global companies to improve success rates among globally mobile employees and improve rates of retention through language training.