Danpo invests in Danish language education and in Lærdansk

The chicken giant Danpo is currently providing extensive Danish language education for its international staff at the factories in Aars and Give. The language education is arranged in close collaboration with Lærdansk. Human resources consultant Mette Høiseth believes the effort will result in greater productivity and job satisfaction.


The chicken factory Danpo is currently providing extensive Danish language instruction for its foreign employees at the factories in Aars and Give. The language instruction is arranged in close collaboration with Lærdansk. Human resources consultant Mette Høiseth believes the effort will result in greater productivity and job satisfaction.

Danpo has attempted to provide Danish language instruction for its foreign employees in the past. The offer of a paid course during leisure time was simply not attractive enough to the employees. However, Danpo heard about Lærdansk through contacts at Dansk Industri (the Confederation of Danish Industry), and things began to happen.

"I could already sense a positiveness and proactiveness during my first contact with Lærdansk. We speak the same language, there is a quick tempo, it is possible to get things done," explains Mette Høiseth, human resources consultant at Danpo, who is very enthusiastic about the collaboration.

"Lærdansk capably and quickly identified the type of Danish language instruction we needed and how much. Lærdansk has also been good at customizing language instruction that is a perfectly suited to the needs of the company and the employees," she says.

The concept was formed in the collaboration with the Netværkslokomotivet (the Network Locomotive), experts in educational strategies, planning and employee motivation. It was Lærdansk that brought Danpo and Netværkslokomotivet together.

The solution was to offer Danish language instruction during working hours. That was a particular challenge to Danpo. Removing an employee from the production line is no small thing. Danpo therefore needed so-called rotation relievers for the employees who are attending classes.

"That is no easy task, I might add. They do not grow on trees, so we have rotation relievers from six different municipalities," says Mette Høiseth.

She now views the rotation relievers as a good opportunity for Danpo to recruit future vacation relievers, perhaps even full-time employees. For the rotation relievers, it is a good opportunity to get a foot in the door of the labor market.

Production line considerations

Size does matter sometimes, and Lærdansk is Denmark's largest provider of Danish language instruction for adult foreigners. Danpo and Mette Høiseth therefore feel confident that the language instruction will be held as planned. For example, if a teacher becomes ill, substitutes are ready and waiting. That is an important production line consideration.

And production line considerations are precisely the reason why Danpo is investing heavily in Danish language instruction. There is no room for error in food production.

"If an employee misunderstands an instruction and mixes the wrong spice into the pot, we will have several tons of chicken that cannot be sold. We cannot just rinse off the curry that should not have been used. We hope to eliminate or minimize those types of errors, when everyone speaks Danish."

Mette Høiseth has no doubt that the problem is real.

"Some department heads in Production have employees that they are unable to communicate with. Each week we have white board meetings in the departments, where the managers report on efficiency, innovation, productivity and plans for productions. But some employees leave without understanding anything.

When the foreign employees become better at Danish, this will have a number of positive effects," believes Mette Høiseth.

"Communication becomes more effective, resulting in greater job satisfaction and productivity. Absolutely."

Not just for fun

The employees have responded positively to the package Danpo has arranged with Lærdansk, where the Danish instruction takes place during working hours, in factory classrooms and is based on topics and phrases that the employees use at work. That is a great motivator.

"The language instruction has just begun, but the project has been in planning stages for some time. Everyone is talking about it. There is a sense that people believe in the project, not least because it takes place during working hours with capable partners and instructors," says Mette Høiseth. She believes that the Danish language instruction benefits the working environment and job satisfaction, because the employees are getting to know each other across departments.

So the Danish instruction is not just for fun.

"Ideally, we would like to see our current employees stay on here at the factory. But for that to happen, they must be able to adapt to future production. We are implementing more automatization with robots, which requires the employees to understand an instruction and operate them. In order to do that, the employees simply must learn Danish," concludes Mette Høiseth.