At Byrne Dairy’s Syracuse Cold Storage facility, in Syracuse, New York, managers were having a difficult time effectively communicating with non-English speaking employees. While the company provides important information and trainings in both English and Spanish, it wanted to give its employees the opportunity to overcome these language barriers to do more.
From New Readers Press, the company purchased Learning Upgrade licenses so Spanish-speaking employees can increase their English skills.
Each shift, these employees are given time to use company computers to work in the Learning Upgrade program. “They take advantage of it, and they are doing a great job,” said Syracuse Cold Storage Supervisor Jim Begay.
Based on what employees had to say, they’re taking advantage of it because they are seeing where learning English can take them.
“I have been here for so long, it’s good to finally have the opportunity to grow,” said Alex, a forklift operator, through translation. “This gives me the chance to move up in the future. I could get a promotion or become a supervisor. In the future I can do things to help others who need a translator or who do not have the skills.”
Ada, who works in direct shipping, has made progress not just speaking, but understanding the language. She said since using Learning Upgrade, she can better understand when English words are shortened or abbreviated in conversation—something native speakers often do without realizing.
“I learn a lot of words, grammatics, vocabulary,” Ada said. “It helps [me] grow the language. Helps [me] write.”
These are exactly the outcomes Byrne Dairy was hoping for. Investing in its employees has not just improved employee/supervisor communication, but the higher English skills among employees creates a more efficient workplace and gives the company an opportunity to shape its team to grow from within.
The employees are also improving their soft-skills by working as a team and supporting and helping each other through the program.
“It has helped them become more open and comfortable,” Begay said. “I’m very proud of all of them.”