English classes helping employees move up in their careers

A new English program at Showplace Cabinetry is helping bridge the language gap between employees.
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 9:19 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Like many businesses in the area, Showplace Cabinetry has seen it’s number of Spanish speaking only employees grow over the years. But a new program at the company is helping bridge the language gap between those employees and everyone else.

Maria Puente has been in her role as New Hire Trainer for about a year, although she’s been at Showplace Cabinetry for much longer. Although Spanish-speaking employees at Showplace have been going to English classes for years, what they’ve been asking for is something in-house.

“As the New Hire Trainer, I realized that we do have a lot of the Hispanic community working here for Showplace, and it was high on demand for them to have an English class.” Puente.

Partnering with Caminando Juntos of Sioux Falls, Puente helped set up in-house English classes. 15 employees took part in the first series of classes, and immediately it helped many not only learn the language but allowed them to spend more time with their families as well.

“In turn, it helps them with their work-life balance, as well as their personal life outside of Showplace.” HR Director Heidi Bowers said.

Those new language skill helping them get a better grasp on their job and those they work with, and breaking down language barriers between those they work with.

“From being able to communicate with their supervisors, to asking for time off. Being able to report and problems and situations that might arise.” Puente said.

Mike Figueroa was one of the first to sign up, and he says already it’s helped him understand and communicate better at work and at home.

“When I started here, I’m nervous all of the time because all of the people were talking but I didn’t understand. I couldn’t speak. So right now, I’m speaking a little better.” Figueroa said.

Puente says it’s allowed those employees to move up in their careers, helping them take on higher level jobs.

“Most of the Hispanic community would stay in entry level. But now, they’re thriving and moving up in positions that are higher.” Puente said.

Puente said they’re already working on a second class to help even more employees improve their English. She said with how well it’s worked for them at Showplace, it’s something that she recommends other companies and businesses look into to help their workforce.