The Satisfaction Survey largely confirmed that teachers’ main concerns and dissatisfaction
relates to their contractual terms and conditions of employment, namely: pay and benefits.
In terms of working culture, instructors are generally very happy with the working
environment of their centers and their relationships with both foreign and Korean colleagues.
The survey has clearly highlighted a need to improve communication and relationships with senior management, who are deemed to be reactive and administrative, rather than leading in their nature. The union strongly feels that survey results indicate the need for a more sophisticated approach to staff retention and it hopes to play a proactive role in their design and implementation.
I. Recruitment, Induction, Relocation, and Orientation
a) Recruitment: Respondents praised the efficiency of the recruitment process, noting the
speed of answers, and recruitment manager’s general availability. Important to note is that a good deal of teachers felt that the hiring process was misleading, indicating inaccurate information relating to topics such as the average monthly salary, number of block shifts that are actually assigned, and a higher cost of living than anticipated. Several teachers expected more flexible hours and control over their schedule. Respondents wished that they had been more realistically informed from the outset on these issues. In fact since this survey was drafted, one new hire left after only two weeks for this very reason.
b) Induction and Orientation: The induction comments were generally positive, with a few
suggestions to establish a buddy system, or some other way to help new instructors learn
the basics of living in Seoul. Several people commented that the Welcome Pack was
inadequate, both in terms of maps and general information.
• Recruitment: It is the union’s opinion that the management of perception and expectations of new recruits is crucial in the formation of the emotional contract between the Berlitz and its teachers, and that the acclimatization to the Berlitz’s working setup are paramount to the motivation, productivity and retention of staff. In line with recruitment best practices, we suggest that the information offered during recruitment needs to be accurate and realistic.
• Induction and Orientation: The union has contacted a relocation company and preliminary research shows that there is a huge amount of free information in English for
foreigners provided by government agencies aiming to assist expats. The union suggests
this issue needs to be reviewed and additional materials to support the welcome kit should
be added. We also feel that as Berlitz is a world-class institute, it can and should tout itself
more during the interview process.
II. Contractual terms and conditions of employment
a) Sick leave: Many teachers didn’t know they were entitled to sick pay. Several more pointed out the inconsistency of being paid 5 units per day instead of a pro-rated system based on the minimum guaranteed salary.
b) Unpaid leave: Some teachers emphasized the important point that taking unpaid leave
deprives you of your minimum salary for the month, instead of the days being pro-rated for the days the instructor worked.
c) Annual leave: Vacation comes up as a persistent response in the survey as a form of
motivation. Several instructors felt that 8 days of vacation is not enough.
d) Air fare: Several instructors noted the difficulty of buying roundtrip tickets which are valid for more than one year. Allowing instructors to buy two one way tickets might be more expensive, but wouldn’t force them to lose money on a roundtrip ticket they can’t fully use. Some instructors mention that KRW800 000 airfare for re-signing does not reflect the cost of a roundtrip flight home.
e) Accommodation allowance and key money: Was the most burning issue by many of the
instructors, especially those living working at Samseong/Gangnam which is a notoriously
expensive area, and too far from Itaewon for instructors to commute to. Overall, it appears that most instructors pay well above the allocated stipend and so they feel that the housing stipend and key money were too low in proportion to the high cost of living.
f) Other payments: Respondents were fairly neutral about overtime but showed frustration with the lack of bonuses and other recognition schemes.
g) Renewal of contract: Most instructors did not feel that Berlitz is competitive, citing salary, hours and housing as their main reasons. Thus, Berlitz’s stability and reputation are the only cited attractive aspects for instructors. Other than ‘a good experience on the CV’, Berlitz is seen as unattractive in its terms and conditions of employment. 59% of those that responded said they wouldn’t renew their contracts, while 41% said they would, though several with reservations. Having said that, 56% said they would recommend Berlitz to a friend, whilst only 34% said they would not.
The ‘pay negotiation outline document’ was drawn up based on the comments from the survey and offers a more detailed summary of teachers’ needs and expectations. To improve retention and motivation, the union suggests entering pay negotiation as soon as possible.
III. Working Environment
Gwangwhamun teachers all complained about a dirty and unattractive working environment, while several City Hall teachers want more computers. Gangnam and Samseong were happier with their working environment and Samseong’s new center received a number of compliments.
IV. Work Relationships
a) With colleagues: Overall, it appears that Berlitz instructors have excellent relationships
among themselves and with the administration staff in each centre. However; many were
complaining about the lack of unity and interaction between staff from different centers.
b) With MI’s: Overall, no one was deeply dissatisfied with their MI, although many indications were made that MI’s are viewed as administrators, as opposed to leaders.
c) With LCD’s: Instructors were generally tepid about their LCD, several noting that they
rarely communicate. Overwhelmingly, instructors feel that their relationship with the
senior executives is non-existent and many are unsatisfied with the situation as it stands.
• Monthly meetings between MIs & LCDs and staff should be instituted to encourage
communication within the center.
• Teachers suggested periodic visits from executives and increased communication to
• The managerial responsibilities of SI’s could also be improved if they are empowered to run staff meetings and act as a first point of call for problems.
V. Application of Policies and Procedures
• Interestingly, several instructors commented that they were generally unaware of any
procedures or had never experienced them.
• Several teachers feel that inferior, late or drunk teachers are not adequately disciplined,
which de-motivates them. Others commented that discipline is conducted in a biased manner and that in some cases is procedurally unfair. A lack of managerial response to poor performance was also noted.
• Some instructors noted that praise is only verbal and is not linked with other recognition or reward schemes. They also expressed dismay at the lack of any coherent reward system.
• Some dissatisfaction was expressed about unfair/biased distribution of units in some centers.
• Policies and Procedures Awareness: Induction on the company’s policies and procedures
can be very helpful – as opposed to the current ‘email and read’ approach. A structured
session between new recruits and their SI/MI should be offered within the first month of work.
• Financial Recognition schemes: Implement Performance Related Pay (P.R.P) scheme as
proposed in the pay negotiation outline document.
• Unfair application of polices, procedures and general practices (discipline,
scheduling, etc): on the introduction of a new grievance policy – a structured and
constructive methods for dealing with issues of this nature will be available. Grievances may be raised and addressed on a case by case basis – as and when they arise.
• Managing poor performance: a poor performance management procedure should be
included as part of the appraisal policy (and not be practiced only during probation). A poor performance management workshop should be offered to SI’s, MI’s and union reps.
VI. Staff Development
a) A few requests were made for more demonstrations and observation in the initial training.
b) Continued training for methodology and OTJ training was a consistent demand.
c) Soft skills and people skills training requests were requested on numerous occasions.
• Internal development programme for second year instructors to be developed. Berlitz should be committed to life-long learning in the organization and as such staff would benefit from ongoing internal as well as external training. We would like to suggest that Berlitz encourages and supports instructors who renew their contracts to enroll in a Celta training course.
• We suggest topic meetings to be held once or bi-monthly that might go over issues such as observation, demonstrations lessons, etc.
VII. Motivation and Productivity
Motivation was brought up throughout the survey, especially in places where staff felt that motivation was lacking, like salary, hours, and incentives. Suggestions to improve motivation focused mainly on money, incentives, and improved working hours. Many respondents wanted staff meetings or socials of some kind to improve motivation and team unity.
• A formal HR motivation strategy to be developed incorporating both financial and nonfinancial schemes. E.g. instructor of the month / year, team-building, social events, etc.
• Any incentive schemes implemented should be formal presented and recognized within each center and/or across the organization.
VIII. Company Culture
The company culture was described in a variety of ways, mostly stressing the strictly business approach.
• Cross-cultural training needs to be integrated into the induction phase thereby educating
new arrivals in Korean business culture and practices. Teachers will be better equipped to
accept and succeed in a Korean corporate working culture.
• The union strongly feels that an element of fun is fundamentally missing and hope that with the introduction of interventions such as the sport day will change the aforementioned perceptions for instructors.
IX. Internal Communication
This section mirrored the relationships section, with instructors, administrative staff and MIs all being rated positively. Once again, LCDs were given lower marks, while the senior executives weren’t considered to be in communication with the teachers at all.
• The union argues once again that monthly staff meetings are paramount for positive and
effective internal communication.