How important is having an English-speaking company culture?
The remote shift didn’t just change how we do business. It changed how we communicate in business.
As more people work from different places around the world, English has become one of the most commonly shared languages between workers – and it’s being spoken more frequently.
Even before the digital revolution, English was the world’s business language. The difference now is that people are using English for both formal and informal conversations in their jobs. People write Slack messages in English, give presentations in English, and have calls in English.
For those who speak English as a second language, the practice is great. But it’s also business leaders’ responsibility to create a natural, comfortable English-speaking company culture.
Here’s how to do so, and what the benefits can be in the workplace.
Why integrate an English-speaking language strategy in the workplace?
There are numerous reasons to promote English learning in a business:
1. Build trust with clients across teams
Communicating in the same language means that processes and people are better understood and expectations are more easily managed. It also means that people can build personal relationships, which leads to greater productivity.
2. Establish business credibility
English is a prerequisite at some of the biggest companies in the world. Teams that also speak English show that they have the same high standards as corporations, and that they invest in their workforce’s evolution.
3. Widen international networking
One in four people speak English. Teams that also speak English can connect with a wider pool of clients, partners, and key players that can turn into promising business opportunities.
4. Improve employee satisfaction and retention
Employees that are given tools and pathways to learn English feel more appreciated by their employers, and are more likely to stay in their roles. They also tend to be more motivated, and suggest creative initiatives to apply their English at work and help others.
5. Access in-demand talent
Companies with an English language strategy are more desirable to applicants than those without one. For candidates who have multiple job offers, a clear English-speaking company culture could convince them to accept a position.
Set collective English-speaking goals
While individuals will have different needs and paces to learn English, setting company or team-wide targets is worthwhile.
These goals act as a common source of inspiration, and help keep everyone engaged with the English-speaking culture. The goals should be realistic and measured frequently to report the progress.
Good initial goals to implement are:
- Conduct at least two meetings per week in English
- Write internal emails in English in the afternoons
- Have virtual coffee breaks in English once a day
- Prepare monthly reports in English
- Host a team presentation in English once per quarter
- Translate one company document into English per month
There’s huge scope to brainstorm goals that support people’s thinking and acting in English, and further general business aims.
Assign times and events for speaking in English
A culture develops with routine. Especially in the early days, it’s important to establish times to speak in English.
Once employees are used to speaking English in these moments, they’ll naturally start to do so at other times too.
For example, businesses could state that the Monday morning call will only be in English. Alternatively, every day between 3pm – 4pm could be the ‘English hour,’ where employees have to communicate in English, no matter what they’re working on. Another option could be to launch an event specifically for speaking English. For instance, a business book club where staff read a short resource in English and have to talk about it, or a biweekly fireside chat with a native English guest speaker.
Integrate English media into daily activities
There’s no shortage of content in English to integrate into the workplace. Podcasts, news articles, videos, blogs, music, and more should be included in the day-to-day operations.
The more this media is part of teams’ processes, the more they can contextualize English. For example, managers could play a song about waiting while people join a meeting. They might also share daily news stories about trends within the company’s industry. Or, they could show videos of product/service testing with English users during feedback sessions.
The more diverse the content, the better. Companies should accommodate all employees and use different mediums to instill English-speaking as a culture in their company.
It’s equally effective to ask employees what media they enjoy in English and incorporate that into daily activities.
ELSA and English-speaking company culture in action
ELSA is an AI-powered English learning tool that supports a consistent, English-speaking culture in the workplace. ELSA’s Speech Analyzer helps workers practice speaking out loud on any given topic. It then provides an automatic transcript of the session, with detailed feedback on their pronunciation, intonation, fluency, grammar, vocabulary, and any mistakes.
The tool also integrates with Google Calendar, which offers the option to record any calls or meetings. So instead of carving out more time to practice, employees can learn and receive immediate feedback on their English while on the job.
Employees can follow ELSA’s guided lessons by answering different prompts to practice their English speaking skills. Topics range from interview practice to everyday scenarios and subjects, such as food, work, or shopping.
ATAD Steel Structure, one of the 500 largest companies in Vietnam, offered ELSA to its 400 employees across 34 departments. The company asked teams to study 10 minutes per day with the app, giving bonuses to dedicated individuals, and penalties to those who didn’t complete the time.
The results were impressive:
- 100% of ATAD Steel Structure employees’ English improved over six months
- 70% of employees saw an improvement of 5%
- 43% of employees saw an improvement of 10%
- On average, students practiced more than the required time (13 minutes per day)
“Training cooperation with ELSA Speak is one of the strategic steps for human resource development of ATAD. ELSA Speak’s AI and personalized learning content is a cost-effective, optimal solution to help ATAD employees improve their English speaking skills effectively, thereby confidently working with partners and customers all over the world.” – Ms. NGUYEN THI PHUC TUYEN, Human Resource Director at ATAD
Like any form of culture-building, businesses need to carefully plan, be inclusive, and curate shared moments for team members to speak in English. Along the way, they need resources that make the culture accessible and instinctive. Start shaping your English-speaking culture now and introduce ELSA in your work environments today.
Read more on how to hone your presentation skills in English as part of the implementation of goals to achieve an English-speaking company culture.