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Our 'Spotlight' articles highlight real life case studies. With global expansion Murata Manufacturing employees in Japan faced challenges managing cross-cultural communication. We share how they introduced the benefits of English and intercultural communication skills to everyone.
Murata Manufacturing's management team noticed that employees in Japan were engaging more with overseas employees, and yet their English and intercultural skills were not adequate.
The resulting programme of self-study learning helped them achieve standardised and consistent results and built confidence amongst employees across locations around the world.
“We highly [value] this online course which can handle anything that we thought unmanageable.”
Ms. Kanako Nagata and Ms. Misa Okuda Administration Group, HR department, Global HR division
A bit of background
Murata Manufacturing (MM) is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic components known globally for leading innovation in the electronics industry. 90% of sales are accounted for from trading overseas. Murata’s strengths are due to technological development and Monozukuri (manufacturing) capabilities.
Over the years they have established a strong customer base with a large global network, thanks to great organisational cooperation among its employees.
Although Murata Manufacturing were a successful, growing international business, with employees at manufacturing locations in Japan engaging well with overseas employees, management felt their English skills were not adequate. And sometimes a barrier to effective cross-cultural communication.
As a result they launched a three-year plan to improve employees' core business English, focusing on practical speech and writing skills. They wanted to use English to increase employee engagement and motivation, to build confidence in speaking English, and improve intercultural communication with overseas offices and customers worldwide.
We helped them to discover how combining self study English and communication skills could be a way forwards.
The customised solution
They held two training seminars: one for domestic employees and the other for employees who had transferred abroad. The domestic one, called ETI (English Training Intensive) had three stages based on an employee's TOEIC score. During the second stage, employees whose TOEIC score ranged from 500 to 600 took the Writing for Business course.
Writing for Business
Learners who need to improve their business correspondence skills can take this course which covers over 100 everyday business situations. It provides realistic writing practice with emails, letters, reports, presentations and memos. Writing tasks can also be sent to a tutor for personal feedback.
Employees were also encouraged to take other modules such as Practical English 6 and TOEIC Test Kick Off. Murata offered to pay half the course fees for employees who met the course criteria. It was more popular than expected, resulting in about 400 participants every year.
Benefits of E-learning
- Globally consistent learning - Online English helped achieve standardised and consistent results across locations around the world.
- Immersive and confidence building - Face-to-face lessons created an immersive environment to practice and to build confidence in speaking English. Employees became highly motivated, core language skills were enhanced and greater inter-cultural fluency.
- Flexibility to fit around their lives - Self-study training enabled employees to learn anywhere and at their own pace. It also helps organisations to manage learners’ progress.
- Customised solution - It is affordable and all materials can be restructured or reordered to allow employers to match topics, functions and key language more closely to their needs. It helped to track employee progress and follow ups to suit their needs.
- Time saving and reliable - The technology was user-friendly, easily customisable, and offered security and IT support, reducing the time Murata spent in managing seminars.
Murata recorded the following positive changes in the organisation:
- Writing emails in English became faster by 30%
- Increased employee interaction in global meetings.
- More offices were encouraged to take up English courses.
Success went beyond their programme expectations with greater cross-cultural communication and strong employee advocacy.
- Employees formed self-study groups and set competitive goals for course completion rates.
- Group leaders developed initiatives to set goals at their own offices.
- Improved inter-cultural communication with more opportunities created to travel and work overseas.
Upskill your team - discover how English and communication skills can improve your intercultural communication.