Workplace Literacy Matters – More Than Ever!
Workplace literacy helps keep us and the people we work with productive, healthy and safe. COVID-19 has made this even more noticeable since everyone has had to adapt to new workplace policies and procedures.
What is workplace literacy?
Workplace literacy refers to the skills employees need in order to be successful at work and manage the job demands in a healthy, productive way. They include essential skills: reading, writing, document use, numeracy, computer use, critical thinking, oral communication, working with others, and continuous learning. These skills are involved in almost every job, at different levels of complexity.
To support workplace literacy, employers and organizations can develop workplace documents that are clear and easy to understand. All workers benefit when information, concepts, and vocabulary are introduced thoughtfully and carefully.
Why is workplace literacy important?
Workplace literacy helps workers:
- Work accurately and efficiently
- Stay safe and healthy at work
- Experience less work-related stress
- Get a job and stay employed
- Earn more.
Workplace literacy benefits employers as well as employees. Employers who offer workplace literacy training have experienced:
- Cost savings and productivity gains
- Increased customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
- Increased revenues
- Positive rate of return on training investment
Did you know?
- 40% of the Canadian workforce does not have the essential skills – including language, literacy, and numeracy – needed to apply their technical skills and knowledge at a globally competitive level. (Smarten Up: It’s Time to Build Essential Skills, 2015)
- Even modest investment in workplace literacy and essential skills training can translate into substantial gains in workers’ skills and job performance, as well as increases in employment, earnings, job retention, productivity, and cost savings from reduced errors and waste. (UPSKILL Health – Technical report on worker and business outcomes, 2016)
- While workplace literacy and essential skills training benefits everyone, the largest effects on job performance are seen in those with the lowest pre-training skills. (UPSKILL: A Credible Test of Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills Training, 2014)
- Increasing the literacy skills in the workforce by an average of 1% would, over time, lead to a 3% increase in GDP and a 5% increase in productivity. (Literacy Lost: Canada’s Basic Skills Shortfall, 2018)
Learn more about health and safety at work at WorkSafeBC. See an example of a workplace literacy program in UP Skills for Work from ABC Life Literacy Canada.
Where can I find help?
If you or someone you know would like to build stronger workplace literacy skills, contact the Literacy Outreach Coordinator or literacy organization in your BC community. Use this map to find them.
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