Training managers play a critical role in the success of every language program. In this article, Ardor Learning offers some practical tips to help make sure you maximize your training investment while improving learning outcomes and employee satisfaction.
Ardor’s ongoing analysis of our language learning projects shows that our Dynamizer Services improve learning results, averaging over 70% completion for supported projects. The encouragement, monitoring, engagement and recognition that Dynamizers provide to myEnglish learners brings the online learning experience more in line with the social ways typical in-person and teacher-led classroom learning environments reinforce learning.
But our research is increasingly revealing the outsized impact that work environments and training managers can have on learning outcomes.
Even in remote or hybrid workplaces, corporate culture matters. The ways managers invite learners to participate in programs, communicate support for learning, recognize learner progress, and foster peer-to-peer connections around the learning experience can double or triple your language training program ROI.
How to Increase the Effectiveness of your Training Program
1. Invite participation.
A personal invitation from a manager to an employee to participate in a training program can take an employee from indifferent to fully invested in their learning outcomes. All it takes is an email, and you can make your employee feel recognized, worthy of investment, and looking forward to a long career with your company. For many employees – particularly Millenials and Gen Z – a training assignment doesn’t feel like a burden or yet another responsibility. It feels like a benefit, a ‘work perk’ that can increase job satisfaction, productivity and creativity in their role.
Make sure you have strong promotional materials to distribute internally to your employees. If you need help, contact your Ardor project manager. We regularly provide our clients with posters, email templates, website landing pages and videos to help promote language training within your company.
2. Communicate Support.
Communicating your support of your employees’ investment in their language training goes well beyond the invitation (or assignment) to participate. A supportive learning environment includes explicit discussions around how many of the learner’s regular work hours it is acceptable to spend on their program. Support should also include a clear understanding of the training’s priority as compared to their regular work responsibilities – and a recognition when training conflicts with other responsibilities. (Should I skip my online class this week to complete that report?)
If language training is not regularly discussed amongst other work responsibilities, employees may start to defer their learning and fall behind on their progress goals. Dedicated employees may even try to resolve these conflicts by choosing to keep up with training with extra studying on nights and weekends – which may foster resentment toward the assignment and erase the positive benefits of offering the program in the first place.
There are many other strategies that can contribute to a supportive learning environment, including the creation of learning cohorts, promoting “language/immersion zones” – places or times when employee learners are expected to communicate exclusively in their new language, sharing learning resources and tips (interesting news, articles, social media posts, best practices, success stories, etc), and finding ways to connect new language skills with situations that your employees encounter every day.
3. Recognize learner progress.
Recognition of employee accomplishments can take many different forms, and it’s important that your recognition program includes several different strategies in order to accommodate the diversity of your team members. (Click here to read more about how insights into the ways different personality types respond to praise can maximize the impact of your investment in rewards.)
Employee recognition doesn’t have to mean holding a public awards program and giving everyone a trophy. Recognition comes every day in the appreciation you show your employees for the investment they make in increasing their skill level. It can be as simple as having the employee’s manager send a congratulatory email when they complete a milestone, or sending out a monthly team email listing the names of learners who have achieved their goals.
Some training managers may create incentive programs or friendly internal competitions for learners. Ardor has assisted clients in designing and tracking milestone rewards programs, such as number of hours spent learning or number of online classes completed. We have also designed unique digital badges that recognize outstanding learners, such as learners who complete their level rapidly or learners who spend more time in the learning platform.
The trick is to stay engaged with regular admin reporting on learner behavior and stay attuned to trends and outliers in that data. An attentive program manager will easily spot outstanding learner behavior, and your Ardor project manager can help you with ideas on how to recognize that behavior within your organization.
The easiest and best way to ensure your learners are recognized for their learning efforts is to make sure their direct manager is informed of their progress.
4. Foster peer-to-peer connections.
Language learning is different from other types of learning, in that it is a social skill best learned and reinforced with human interaction. Even in a remote or hybrid work environment, training managers can create social opportunities amongst peers.
Creating leaner cohorts by pairing learners who start at the same level and are expected to complete their program at the same time is an excellent way to build community around learning at work. Make sure you communicate with your learners who their peer group is – and make sure they have a way to communicate with each other.
Group Classes are an excellent way to get your learner cohorts to engage with each other regularly while learning, and they can help maximize your budget dollars. Even learners who have One-to-One Classes as part of a Blended Learning program can benefit from supplementary Group Class offerings. Ardor’s Group Class curricula include many business skills topics that simultaneously build language proficiency and workplace productivity and are an excellent way to help learners connect their language learning to their job role.
Another resource Ardor offers for learners to engage with their peers is myTalk. MyTalk is an on-demand chat room environment that is monitored by a teacher and is an excellent way to boost learners’ oral production and confidence in their speaking skills.
Much has been said about how Gen Z and Millenial workers are demanding more from their employers. They expect more than a paycheck – they want their work to be satisfying, they want the opportunity to learn and grow, to feel connected at work and to feel valued by their employer. Investing in your training program by implementing these simple steps can go a long way in helping you achieve all these imperatives.
When compounded with the issues of today’s tight labor market and the challenges of managing a global workforce, employers can’t afford to apply their training budget to a program and then walk away. Successful programs – especially successful language training programs – require ongoing care and maintenance in the form of recognizing learner accomplishments and reinforcing learning long after the program is completed. Effective recognition and reinforcement programs can be implemented with no additional budget investment (just a little time and consideration), and they offer an opportunity for training managers to really shine.
For more on this topic, check out this article from SHRM.org
If you’re currently managing a language training project, we want to hear from you! Tell us what’s working, what’s not, and what you might need help with. Ardor’s project managers and learning experts have implemented thousands of programs for hundreds of thousands of learners around the world, and we are happy to bring our expertise to your project.