Cactus has been providing language training for international law firm Olswang since 2011. Olswang has headquarters in London, offices in a number of worldwide locations, and close ties with firms across the globe. For staff at Olswang, language training is considered a benefit rather than a necessity, and for that reason the group course case study highlights how language training can improve rention rates and employee engagement.
Loretta Bonnano, Training Coordinator at Olswang, explains the history behind language learning at Olswang. The company has always run ‘language clubs’ – 10-week courses of a minimum 4 students – in order to give staff access to other languages, be it for leisure, travel or personal reasons. During the recession these language courses were stopped but now need to been re-instated, with Olswang contributing £50 towards each course and each delegate paying the rest.
Cactus reinstated classes at Olswang in French and Spanish; the uptake was very good, with participants taking one 1.5 hour lesson on one evening each week, over a course of 10 weeks. Usually participants are beginners in the language and go into the course expecting to just learn the basics; as Loretta admits, however, having taken a course herself, she learnt quite a lot more and is now keen to take a refresher course.
The reality of taking a language course is such that some participants have found it difficult to fit in homework between classes – in fact, some are not even able to attend class due to the nature of their work as lawyers. These are natural considerations for any company offering external courses. Feedback has however been good and Loretta tells me that there is always a positive response when she gives her induction to new course participants.
Loretta told me that she would recommend other companies consider offering language training as a staff incentive, as the benefits are wide-ranging. Within Olswang, and from her personal experience attending a course, she has seen the language courses as an ideal opportunity to network within the firm and to meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise, all in a fun environment. Corporate language tuition is also a stepping stone to international development and success, as staff become equipped to effectively communicate with non-English speaking colleagues in global offices.
I was interested to know whether, with all her experience in arranging corporate language training, Loretta had any advice for other companies considering offering the same. Loretta wisely pointed out the importance of communication between all parties involved – the supplier, the client and the teachers – to ensure that everything runs smoothly when it comes to issues such as missed lessons and feedback forms.
The implementation of the courses had been as smooth as hoped with Cactus and, when I asked about Olswang’s future plans, it was great to hear that they were keen to continue and that it was even on the cards to extend their language training programme to other areas. Our chat rounded off nicely with Loretta telling me that it had been a really good experience, and lots of fun too, so we’re certainly looking forward to fulfilling their language learning needs moving forwards.
Many thanks to Loretta for taking the time to talk to us.