Neoris is a global business and IT consulting company. Created in 2000, it has been present in Spain since 2002. Today, it has 20 offices spread over the US, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
Interview with Jorge Escobar, Finance and Human Resources Manager at Neoris Spain
What are the linguistic needs at Neoris? Why is it important for your employees to speak other languages?
Given the international nature of the company, there is a growing need for a common language in which to do business and establish relationships between the different parties involved in projects. And English is, without a doubt, that language, although it’s true that French is more useful in Northern Africa.
What are your language training policies? What is their relevance within your overall training policies?
We have always considered languages very important, encouraging our employees to improve their language skills. About 15% of our training budget goes to languages. At the beginning, we chose a more traditional approach, with face-to-face sessions at our offices, and then we changed to an e-learning method, which, to be honest, wasn’t very well accepted, since it required an enormous amount of commitment, time and dedication; plus, our employees insisted on the need to improve their listening, pronunciation and communication skills, which made us realize that we had to have some kind of speaking sessions.
Which employees are benefitting from this training?
We have had to change our policy to adapt to the current market reality. In the world we are living in, it no longer makes sense to invest in training for 100% of the staff, especially without expecting some return on the investment. At Neoris, we are well aware that our budget is limited and we have to focus our efforts on those people who we really want to motivate to stay in the company. The training process is part of the employee’s professional development and, at the same time, it is used to reward effort, as part of the recognition and assessment program. Currently, around 20% of our staff is benefitting from these language training programs, which is about 120 employees in total.
What are the requirements that Neoris employees must meet to benefit from this training program?
To be chosen for the program, they need to have been working in the company for more than a year, show a real interest in learning languages, and have been awarded some form of recognition, such as Top Talent, in their most recent performance review. The company will also provide language training in those cases when it is considered necessary for the employee’s participation in an international project.
How often do your employees need to use foreign languages?
Depending on the project they are involved in, our employees may have more or less need to use a second language. In the world of consulting, you never know what the next project is going to be, so it’s important to be well prepared as far as languages are concerned. That way, you can make sure that you are eligible for any type of project.
Have you had face-to-face training before? If so, why have you chosen virtual/telephone training now?
As I mentioned before, we had to reconsider face-to-face training since, apart from being very expensive, it poses the problem of total lack of flexibility. To make it financially viable, several people’s schedules had to line up, which is very difficult for us, given the nature of our work. The attendance rate was very low. Telephone sessions allow you to adapt language training to your schedule, which led to us achieving an attendance rate of close to 100%, which is the main objective of any training program.
How do your employees rate your current language training program?
At Neoris, whenever we carry out a training action, we always review student and teacher feedback, as well as that of the learner’s immediate supervisor, to see if there has been any true progress. This is essential when it comes to deciding what training programs to invest in. As far as the current language training program is concerned, the positive feedback rate is very high.
And how does the company rate it, in general terms?
If our employees are happy, then we, as training managers, are happy too, since it’s our best employee retention tool. And, as I mentioned before, we are very satisfied with the current levels of attendance and progress.
Do you feel that companies in general are aware of the importance of investing in language training?
I think that, more and more, companies tend to think that people should come with English as a “built-in feature”, and they don’t need to invest in training. But, in my opinion, this strategy is a mistake, since, in Spain, we still have a long way to go as far as languages are concerned. Companies should accept this reality and continue investing if they want to be competitive in international markets.
How long have you been working with Training Express? What are the results?
We’ve been working together for exactly one year and, of course, we plan to continue with the program, adding some options, like the digital Magazine, for those people who have shown a high level of dedication and commitment.
What are Training Express Group’s key strengths?
The fact that they offer a personalized telephone-training program, with native teachers who are well prepared to discuss current and relevant topics, and their flexibility to adapt the timetable to our consultants’ complicated schedules.
Source: “Link”, special issue on languages in cooperation with “Equipos y Talento”, issue number 3, 2012