If you work at HR in a manufacturing company, you already know your biggest challenge is reducing employee turnover.
In fact, the manufacturing industry has some of the highest turnover rates in the US, sitting at over 20%.
This is a major problem. And a very costly one.
High turnover means an inability to take on newer projects, satisfy customers’ needs, and maintain employee morale as workers who stay are burdened to keep up with demand. Studies show that companies lose up to thousands, often millions of dollars in perpetual training and development, not to mention unreported costs of lost business.
What if I told you that there is a correlation, however, between English proficiency and employee engagement and retention?
A unique and often overlooked way to engage your employees is to offer them English classes.
Statistics show the manufacturing industry is one of the largest industries chosen by the immigrant population in the U.S. – 12% of foreign born workers work in the manufacturing industry. Little to none have adequate English skills.
With statistics like these, there is proof that a big portion of your workforce would benefit greatly from English classes. More importantly, they will feel appreciated and seen.
The U-SME has found that training and development point to three of the top reasons why people leave a company. Workers need to feel like they can progress in order to feel like they should stay. Foreign born workers, who have issues assimilating themselves into the workforce as it is, have no chance of acquiring higher positions without the English level necessary to communicate with colleagues.
English classes show a commitment of investment from the employer. They show that you are willing to invest in them. If you show you are willing to invest in them, they are willing to invest in you, too.
This, of course, leaves out your proficient English-speaking employees– but does it really?
People are less likely to leave their job if they feel leaving a job means they are leaving a community– social connections that matter.
The better your foreign born workers are able to communicate in English, the more likely they will make deeper personal connections with their English-speaking employees. This creates emotional reasons to not leave.
Not only can a common language increase feelings of community, but it also decreases the risk of workplace accidents.
Studies show that language barriers contribute to around 25% of workplace accidents. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fatal injury rates were 69 percent higher for foreign-born Hispanic workers than for native-born Hispanic workers, who have a stronger grasp of the English language.
Though it may only be 10% of your workforce, offering English classes to your foreign-born employees can improve your working culture by increasing bonds between fellow employees and decreasing the risk of workplace accidents, which are costly and damaging to a workplace’s morale.
You now know that English classes can increase engagement for everyone at your workplace– not just your workers with limited English proficiency.
Increasing engagement means less turnover, as employees will be more dedicated to your company and more excited to come to work.
But classes can be expensive– in cost and in time. Who's to say your employees will actually benefit?