English as a Second Language – at Hilton, Deloitte and ArcelorMittal

by | Oct 20, 2009 | Case Studies, Evidence for Change

Attending a conference such as GlobalExchanges allows you to network and speak to organisations who are deriving real business value from their investments in e-learning for ‘English as a Second Language’.

We are pleased to include these stories as part of our Evidence for Change programme that focuses on delivering real business value through the use of learning technologies. For example in the Hilton International story 71% of their employees have been able to save more than 1 hour per week because of their improved English skills.
Here are the three examples:
Hilton International Inc Case Study
GlobalEnglish provides Hilton International with a global solution for English language training that helps the hotel chain deliver on its brand promise – “Hilton puts back a little of what life takes out” with pledges to consistently deliver the highest level of customer service. With hotels in over 70 countries, the company has deployed a “think globally, act locally” strategy for managing its customer service programs.
Hilton International’s global customer base is comprised primarily of highly educated, upper-income frequent travellers who demand the highest levels of quality and service. In order to consistently meet the expectations of this group, most of whom speak English, the hotel chain declared English to be its official language and deployed a global strategy for building English language skills.
“Our frontline employees interact with our global customers daily in English,” said the Head of International Management Development for Hilton International. “Managers in our organisation are expected to govern an international brand and comply with Hilton’s high standards for operation; this requires confidence when speaking, writing, and listening to English.”
A key strategy in delivering on its brand promise is the attraction and retention of the best hospitality talent in the world. Hilton International has differentiated itself from the competition by providing training to its team members who value the opportunity to improve their English skills. Adequate English skills also make talent more portable, allowing the company to roll out new products more quickly and standardise management excellence around the world.
“What we are trying to accomplish is nothing less than reshaping the culture of our organisation to align consistently and globally to the brand promise,” said Guthrie. “We believe that if we respect our employees and make them feel special, they will go the extra mile to deliver exceptional service to our customers. Our English language training program is at the foundation of this ethic.”
Hilton International had the following goals for its English language-training program:
  • Maximise the potential of Hilton’s global business by enabling high-potential team members to contribute to the business, regardless of geographic boundaries
  • Support the effort to diversify the Hilton workforce and develop local nationals to operate its hotels.
  • Deploy a personalised English learning program to address varying levels of English ability and maximise the investment in learning, while efficiently bringing all participants to a consistent level over the course of the program.
  • Create efficiencies across the worldwide organisation and manage costs.
“The GlobalEnglish Corporate Learning Service has the best functionality and navigation by far. It is highly interactive and the support is excellent. We are also impressed that the GlobalEnglish service teaches all the necessary English skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.”
Hilton International has achieved excellent results with the GlobalEnglish program. After using the GlobalEnglish Corporate Learning Service™ for less than one year, 92% of learners reported they applied what they have learnt to their jobs. Overall, 71% of Hilton International employees have been able to save more than 1 hour per week because of their improved English skills:
  • 81% improved in ability to respond to questions/requests and offer assistance in English.
  • 77% improved in ability to participate in 1-on-1 business phone calls in English.
  • 78% improved in ability to participate in meetings in English.
  • 68% improved in ability to participate in conferences or training in English.
Managers also say that employees using the GlobalEnglish service have improved their performance in these key areas:
  • Dealing with customers
  • Conducting negotiations
  • Interacting with the management team
  • Participating in meetings
  • Reading and writing emails
  • Talking on the telephone
ArcelorMittal Case Study
When you use mergers and acquisitions as a path to growth for creating the world’s number one steel company, integrating the new people and new ideas is a significant challenge. This is exactly the situation faced by ArcelorMittal. With 320,000 employees in more than 60 countries, the company has led the consolidation of the world steel industry, with current production equivalent to around 10% of the world’s steel output.
“Global management requires a shared language,” said Alejandro Gardella, ArcelorMittal HR Manager Americas. “Without good communication skills, employees have a limited ability to contribute to the new global company. We had managers who had to travel with interpreters in order to participate in our global meetings.”
Previously, ArcelorMittal had provided classroom-based English language training, but it was widely varied and yielded inconsistent results. In order to quickly and consistently provide employees with the business English communication skills they needed, a new approach was necessary.
The pilot was very successful. Ninety-eight percent of the participants indicated they would recommend GlobalEnglish to a colleague, and 83 percent were able to apply what they were learning on the job. “The product satisfied a specific need for our employees, one that they recognised. There was no lack of clarity. One of the keys to success was the native-language interface. Having the interface in an employee’s native language is the perfect bridge to speaking English,” said Gardella.
ArcelorMittal has since rolled out the GlobalEnglish service to 3,000 people in the organization, including 1,600 employees in Latin America. Audiences include managers, engineers, specialists, and high-potential candidates around the world.
“We are already seeing the benefits. People who before could not be considered for global projects can now be accessed for their knowledge and experience,” says Gardella. “When you are the leader in an industry, you must always be developing and improving your own best practices. At ArcelorMittal, we are committed to providing the leadership that will transform tomorrow’s steel industry. Having a common language allows us to get the best out of everyone in our company. That contribution is what allows us to continue to make the company better and lead the industry.”
Deloitte Case Study
Fuelled by globalisation and growth in new markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), Deloitte has grown from less than 30,000 to more than 155,000 employees since early 2000. In order to encourage clear and efficient communication around the world, the company declared English to be its official language in 2000. “English is critical for our success,” said Tony Gleeson, Global Director of Learning Programs and Solutions with Deloitte. “There’s no way you can avoid it, particularly in a business where you are working with massive companies. Our global clients such as Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and General Motors rightfully expect Deloitte to operate seamlessly around the world. In order to function as a truly global organisation and efficiently serve these clients, we needed to improve our English skills quickly.”
Prior to implementing an online solution, Deloitte had several thousand employees in classroom-based English training courses. According to Gleeson, they were poorly attended because they weren’t flexible to employees’ needs. More, the company could not track the results from this training, which varied in quality. The company required a more flexible solution for teaching business communication skills, not just general English. They also needed a partner that could support worldwide deployment, and scale as they grew.
Deloitte implemented the GlobalEnglish Corporate Learning Service in eight countries. The company was impressed with the quick improvement they saw in communication skills and the subsequent increase in productivity. The program grew quickly and today GlobalEnglish is offered in more than 30 countries to more than 2,500 employees.
86% of Deloitte users rate their experience with the GlobalEnglish service highly. “Survey feedback has shown us that GlobalEnglish has been popular because it is flexible to our employees’ professional and personal lifestyles,” said Gleeson. “Our employees know that they can’t learn English in the classroom because it doesn’t fit into their schedule. They like the flexibility of the GlobalEnglish service: it works for people at all levels and they don’t have to start at lesson one and go all the way through. They can skip around and get just what they need when they need it.”
GlobalEnglish has contributed significant cost savings to Deloitte. “What has been most striking to me is that our communication around the world is now better, deeper, and our teams are working together more effectively,” said Gleeson. “It always gets down to the money and our return on investment has been excellent when measured in productivity gains. According to users, they are saving on average, 3.5 hours each week due to their improved English skills,” said Gleeson. “This improved productivity is a direct benefit to our clients. Said simply, we are getting more done in less time and our clients are happy,” concluded Gleeson.

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