In April 2018, LUNA Language Services began offering English classes for the international workforce at Geodis, a logistics company with warehouses in Plainfield, Indiana. Geodis fulfills orders for well-known e-commerce accounts and has “a direct presence in 67 countries and a global network spanning over 120 countries.” The employee demographics inside the walls of its warehouses in Plainfield, Indiana, reflect this global diversity. Many on the Geodis team have limited proficiency in English. Geodis provided time within the shift for workers to attend LUNAlearn classes.
Communicating the Value of your Workforce
Many members of the Geodis team come to the United States from refugee camps and challenging conditions in their home countries. Once they arrive in the United States, they begin to work long hours, and often lack the time, the transportation, and the resources to study English. “We have different people from different places and different languages working as a unified team to serve our clients,” said Jim Suber, director of HR for Geodis, “I want them to feel like they belong here. I want them to know we believe in them.”
To communicate the value of every individual in the workforce, Geodis refers to its employees as “teammates.” They coordinate birthday round-table events each month. They do dance-offs and other contests. The addition of LUNAlearn™ classes to the company’s work week encourages even more connection in the workplace. This past spring and summer, the company offered one-hour LUNAlearn™ English classes two days a week for three buildings, giving nearly 75 Geodis teammates the gift of English language acquisition.
Through LUNAlearn™, students try out English in a comfortable setting and get used to speaking it out loud. “This is really a gift Geodis is giving to their teammates,” says Linda Haskell, Director of Client Services for LUNA Language Services, “They’re showing they care about their employees’ personal growth as much as they care about productivity goals.”
Engaging Curriculum in 24 Lessons
LUNAlearn™ classes provide an engaging curriculum for those seeking to expand English proficiency, including 24 lessons filled with fun activities linked with student workbooks for in-class and at-home practice. LUNA’s teachers are trained in teaching English as a new language and have extensive experience in international settings. “I have been a student of other languages myself,” says Darcy Wiley, LUNAlearn™ lead teacher, “I have lived in and visited other nations and know what it is like to be a newcomer. Teaching English is a way of extending my hand to the internationals in my community to give them the words and the cultural understanding they need to enjoy life here fully.”
From the first round of classes, Geodis has noticed increasing camaraderie among employees and team leaders as students speak more frequently and confidently in English. Becoming more comfortable in English also strengthens the connection between employees of various language backgrounds, cultivating teams that are more efficient and effective. And becoming more fluent in English helps reduce life stress in off-hours out in the community, making teammates more energetic when they return to work. Geodis attributes recent increases in job retention in part to the LUNAlearn™ class offerings.
A Recruiting Tool
Other warehouse distribution centers are coming to see that classes for English language learners are a valuable recruiting tool. The Home Depot distribution center in Plainfield committed to pilot a LUNAlearn™ ELL class for their workforce in late spring. Each company adapts the program for their own work culture. Home Depot leadership chose to compensate students for attending the class between shifts.
Breaking Down Barriers
Recently as LUNA and Geodis completed the first round of LUNAlearn™ English classes, one student shared, in English, how she had arrived in this country feeling like a person with many limitations. These limitations included: limited in vision because of her inability to read English, limited in hearing because of her inability to understand English, and limited in voice because of her inability to speak English.
As she shared her thoughts aloud for the class and shed light on the students’ impressive progress, the leadership found themselves speechless. Several in attendance wiped their eyes as the teachers called the students’ names and the Geodis management team presented each student with a certificate of completion.
LUNA celebrates a diversity of backgrounds by offering a chance for a more significant connection between languages through learning English. LUNAlearn™ classes for English Language Learners provides companies like Geodis and The Home Depot a way to invest in their associates as people, not just as workers, and gives them the gift of language to benefit them both on the clock and off. These companies are helping their associates do more than bring home a paycheck. They’re helping them make a life for themselves and their families. These companies are passing forward what is right and meaningful to a loyal and hardworking workforce.
LUNA will continue to offer LUNAlearn™ level one for companies in the area, as well as the second curriculum in January 2019.