How E-Learning Helps Shift Workers With Language Learning

Thea Bohn -unless-
Posted by THEA BOHN

The ever-changing world of shift work

Shift work encompasses a wide range of industries, including law enforcement, hospitality, transportation, retail and healthcare. The people working these jobs are security guards, hotel staff, air traffic controllers, cashiers and nurses. According to 2004 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 15 million Americans do full-time shift work—and although much of the discussion in light of the pandemic has centered on adjusting to remote work, the disruption in industries using shift workers have been largely left out of the conversation.

Industries that use shift workers face some unique managerial and HR challenges. Juggling many schedules, skill sets and linguistic backgrounds can be difficult, particularly for companies that want to invest in their employees as a resource. Even so, these barriers need not stop companies using shift workers from keeping up with an economy trending towards multilingual teams and international business.

While in-house training can be difficult in these industries, team leaders can easily and effectively invest in their shift workers via language learning programs administered through e-learning—and Babbel for Business provides the perfect solution to accomplish those goals.

Why language learning is vital for shift work

Though it’s not always immediately clear how beneficial language learning can be for companies, it has numerous applications for shift working teams. According to Pew Research Center, immigration is likely to drive the growth of the US labor force through 2035 more than any other factor. This means more of the labor force is likely to speak English as a second language, increasing the need for HR departments and managers to make multilingualism a part of their company culture to optimize teamwork and collaboration. After all, numerous studies have shown that successful multilingual teams are more innovative, more trusting of one another and offer better customer service than their counterparts.

While it’s clear that language learning can encourage trust and communication among team members, it also has beneficial effects on a company’s bottom line. In industries using shift work specifically, employee turnover can be a big operational inconvenience and a major cost. According to 2017 data from the Work Institute, replacing an employee can cost as much as 33% of their yearly salary.

Though turnover happens for many reasons related to stress, compensation and company leadership, it also has to do with a company’s willingness to invest in their employees—and language learning is an elegant solution to this issue. For ESL employees, flexible English-language learning aid can be a valuable motivator when it comes to employee retention; on the other hand, native English speakers can also benefit—after all, multilingual employees can earn five to 20% more in base pay than their competitors. Finally, language learning has also been shown to increase employee morale and confidence, leading to better workplace outcomes and greater job satisfaction.

Shift worker learning with Babbel


Babbel provides flexible language e-learning for shift workers

Though there are many language-learning services on the market, Babbel’s strength is its flexibility. Babbel for Business offers three product tiers for companies looking to implement a language learning program. The most all-encompassing are Babbel Intensive and Babbel Live, both of which include 30 and 60-minute video lessons with certified teachers and blended learning programs to help larger teams reach their language learning goals. For companies looking for maximum flexibility and for employees to set the pace of their own learning, Babbel Professional is a great option.

Like all the other products, Babbel Professional offers online language learning lessons with support for 14 languages, business learning paths and onboarding materials to get things started. Most importantly, however, is that these classes have been proven effective in regular low doses that are as short as 15 to 20 minutes a day—in other words, windows of time that can easily be accomplished on a commute or on a break without employees having to miss work.

Babbel for Business is a proven language-learning solution for shift workers

Babbel for Business has already been successfully stress-tested in numerous work environments as well, including Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). ECCC is a branch of Canada’s government dealing with climate issues, and they must be able to communicate with Canadian citizens in both French and English. To that end, the company’s senior manager, Serge Desjardins, looked into language learning programs to improve staff proficiency in both languages.

It was clear in-house or fixed learning programs wouldn’t work because a majority of employees were shift workers; another option was an expensive three to six month language intensive, which would’ve been disruptive to the company. Instead, Desjardins chose Babbel for Business’s e-learning option, targeting 30 minutes of lessons a week—though he also gamified the process by having learners risk losing their language-learning access if they didn’t hit that goal. The result of this flexible approach was huge gains in language skills, greater team bonding and better communication with the organization’s customer base.

In all, it’s clear that no industry will remain untouched by the globalization of business and the increasing demand for multilingual workforces. Though adapting this new world may seem like a challenge, Babbel for Business’s goal with online language learning is to make the process as simple and effective as possible—while leaving no workers behind.



Sr. Content Marketing Manager B2B

Raised bilingually, Thea is invested in intercultural communication. She sees language learning at the intersection of individual education and globalisation.

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