How social technology is creating new challenges and opportunities for non-native English-speaking workers in global companies
The growth of social collaboration has undoubtedly made the mastery of Business English more important than ever. But our recent Business English Index research found that overall Business English proficiency decreased by 7% compared to last year. Could an increase in social media tools be exacerbating the gap in Business English skills of your workforce, or does social technology provide greater opportunity?
Our “flatter” economy certainly creates challenges for non-native English-speaking workers. Since there are now very few jobs that are individually focused, the need to collaborate is greatly infused into almost every part of an organization. Social communication tends to be informal, which causes social channels to be filled with slang rather than business-specific terms. Non-native English speakers may not be able to comprehend this language, causing time to be wasted in deciphering the message and contributing to overall confusion.
Social communication also exposes English deficiencies because mistakes are more visible. And a poorly worded email to a supplier or a negative customer experience (like United Airlines breaking guitars) can be instantly shared online for worldwide consumption. All these challenges can potentially be very harmful to your company, your employees’ performance and your bottom line.
On the other hand, workers now also have greater opportunities to collaborate using technology that didn’t even exist five years ago. As we wrote in a blog post last October entitled Collaboration and Innovation Have Always Been Social, there are now opportunities to strengthen the informal networks within companies, creating resources for every employee who can now more easily get help from others. In that blog post, we quoted a Harvard Business Review article that said: “Tapping into the collective wisdom of everyone creates a new source of competitive advantage, agility and future innovation.”
Forward-thinking leaders are now realizing that they can—and should—integrate work and learning. And it’s never been easier or more beneficial to “put English to work” at your company. Products like GlobalEnglish Bloom™ and GlobalEnglish LinGo Pro™ leverage the strengths of social collaboration and mobile technology so that non-native English-speaking workers can integrate Business English development into their day-to-day tasks!
Does your company have a cost-effective way to improve your employees’ Business English skills? What technology do you use?