Holiday home rental agency helps foreign employees learn Danish
Esmark hires many foreign employees
“We love people” is Esmark’s slogan. The holiday home rental company aims to create great holiday experiences for guests and good working conditions for their employees. The numbers clearly show that they live up to these ambitions, as the company is growing. Each year, the number of families wanting to rent summer houses at Esmark increases. This means that more employees need to be found in a municipality where there is already high demand for extra hands. Esmark has over 4000 summer houses that need cleaning when guests flock to the West Coast in the peak season. Many of Esmark’s new employees are Ukrainian refugees. Even before the outbreak of the war, Ukrainians sought jobs in Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality, but the war in 2022 brought even more. Esmark is keen to help them and has employed over 70 Ukrainian citizens in their large cleaning team.
Great enthusiasm for the Danish Lessons
Esmark started the collaboration with UCplus for Danish lessons in 2021, as the company prioritizes that their new foreign employees get off to a good start with language training and learn the Danish needed for their job and everyday life.
“When our foreign employees start without the linguistic prerequisites, it’s important that we offer them language training. Part of being an ‘Esmarkker’ is that we care for each other and help each other, and knowing Danish is an important part of everyday life when they work with us,” says Esmark’s HR Business Partner, Stephanie Dittrich.
Esmark offers their foreign employees the opportunity to enroll in the training program, which consists of four hours of instruction each week for ten weeks. The Danish lessons are scheduled in the winter half-year, when there is a low season in holiday home rentals, so cleaning staff have the time and opportunity to attend language school in Ringkøbing. The offer has been highly popular among the employees, with already 39 registered for the upcoming courses, making it the largest group to date.
Role-Play strengthens work-related language skills
UCplus specializes in developing industry-specific Danish lessons that give employees exactly the language they need. Annemette Knudsen, language consultant at UCplus and regular teacher of Esmark’s Danish courses, emphasizes that the employees always work with specific work-related situations.
“Some of the lessons take place in a holiday home, where we practice many different situations. The cleaning staff need to be able to follow directions like ‘go down the fourth crossroad, it’s the black house on the left, and you’ll find the key box under the eave behind the house’.
They need to be able to understand typical instructions such as ‘remember to use limescale remover in the bathroom’. And they need to be able to describe things themselves, so they can call the office for help, for example, if something is broken in the holiday home. It’s always harder to manage in a new language when talking on the phone, so they also get the opportunity to practice phone conversations together.”
Practice makes perfect, and Esmark can feel the difference when they invest in providing Danish lessons for their foreign employees.
“When it’s changeover day in the summer houses, there’s a very short time frame to get the houses ready for the next group of guests. It requires fast and efficient work, especially since we place great emphasis on our cleaning, like the rest of our service, being top-notch. It requires that the cleaning staff understand what is being said to them. And when they can, we get happy employees and better cleaning,” says Stephanie Dittrich.
Learning the language enhances integration
UCplus also finds that when employees learn Danish, which they can use both at work and in their daily lives, it strengthens their sense of belonging and contributes to stronger integration in Denmark. It’s not just about language, but also about cultural understanding and adaptation.
“Our goal is to create a learning environment where Danish is not only learned as a language but as a bridge to better integration,” says Karen Poulsen, Language Center Manager at UCplus.
- UCplus offers a range of flexible solutions for companies that want to offer Danish lessons to their foreign employees. Lessons can take place at the workplace, at the nearest language centre, or through online teaching.
- UCplus handles all coordination and provides skilled instructors who conduct Danish lessons at the employees’ level.
- It is possible to apply for compensation for lost earnings if the training takes place during working hours. UCplus also assists in applying for this.