Motivation as strategy
Corporate language learning doesn’t have to be static. Training policies are being modified to adapt to the needs of employees, the company and the evolution of the program itself.
In 2012, together with Training Express, Ricoh Spain opened up an English training program to its entire staff, with around 800 employees taking part. After this initial phase, last year the program was restructured, shifting the focus to employees who showed the most interest, which has become one of the keys to its success.
Motivation is one of the main incentives when it comes to studying a language. If there is a lack of interest, learning is rarely effective, and students are not likely to get anything out of their classes, even if they are very good. Hence the need to constantly monitor students to see how programs should adapt to the needs and particularities of each company.
With the goal of optimizing the company’s language program and driving engagement among participants, in April 2014 Ricoh Spain and Training Express carried out a joint analysis of the situation. They concluded that when it came to languages, some of the learning criteria had to be modified. “We had a good program, but there were employees who weren’t spending enough time or making the most out of it. We felt that we needed something more personalized to give students the chance to choose between various options, and above all, to give them a personalized service” explains Esther Ruíz, learning specialist at Ricoh Spain.
“Now students don’t miss their classes and they prepare for them much more”
To carry out this restructuring process, Ricoh Spain, with the guidance of Training Express, shifted the focus to the results of students’ dedication to the English program. Minimum participation and achievement requirements were established, which were then analyzed at the end of each program. This helped them to see which employees would be able continue their language training and which ones, having failed to meet those requirements, would be removed from the program to make room for others who would take advantage of it. “The goal is to incentivize participants who are truly interested in getting the most out of the program. Now students don’t miss their classes and they prepare for them more. Curiously, we’re getting a ton of requests from employees who want to enter the English program,” says Esther.
Currently, Ricoh has opted to give one-to-one virtual English, French and German classes to 148 employees from different areas of the company, offering participants maximum flexibility and personalization. Thus, the company has shown its interest in continuing to expand its language training programs with Training Express, which has become its official provider.
To incentivize employees participating in the program, Ricoh has also decided to reward the 10 top students by offering them a specialized course in English focused on team-building skills, designed in conjunction with Training Express. This initiative, which has been a huge success, shows students how much Ricoh Spain and Training Express care about the program and their progress. “It’s a different way of promoting learning and recognizing effort,” says Esther.