Bridging the Gap Between Business and HR Language Strategy

business strategy, HR strategy, language learning, global businessYou would think that business line leaders and human resource departments would work together in their shared interest of developing the most competent talent pool they can. When the business needs employees with a certain set of skills, HR can help find or grow that talent.

That apparently isn’t the case when it comes to language learning.

Even though 90% of business line leaders cite a lack of language proficiency as a key challenge for their teams, only 1 in 3 of them consult their HR departments to help them bridge that gap.

From the business leader’s perspective

From the outside looking in, it’s hard to see why line leaders don’t consult HR departments more often. But think from their perspective.

Successful business leaders tend to be hands-on managers who are used to solving their teams’ challenges internally. If their talent has specific needs, they find solutions. If they don’t have the solution, they will find people externally.

The problem is that their internal solutions tend to be more expensive and labor-intensive than the solutions HR departments are familiar with. Certainly, hiring externally is exponentially costlier than developing talent from within.

From the human resources perspective

In larger organizations, human resources is often marginalized, a position not reflective of their status as a key driver of corporate growth. To many in the organization, they are the “onboarding and hiring” people.

That’s simply inaccurate. Yes, bringing in quality people is important to maintaining a superior talent pool for the organization, but so is bolstering the existing pool with the skills necessary for the organization to compete—which these days often means expanding into emerging markets.

Perhaps the thinking is that language learning would require a massive corporate effort of considerable expense, both monetarily and in time spent. That’s inaccurate as well. Online language learning is more effective than ever. Its always-on architecture makes study easy for the workforce and cost efficient for the home office. If business leaders and HR would come together more often, they might have come up with that solution. It’s not too late.

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