Effective writing is a vital part of running a successful business. Whether it’s for writing emails to clients or crafting business proposals to engage new partners, it’s important to be able to communicate clearly through writing.
But nowadays, many business owners find themselves dealing with employees who have poor writing skills. This costs them a hefty amount of money. In fact, according to a piece written by Josh Bernoff for The Daily Beast, American businesses lose nearly $400 billion every year as a result of poor writing.
However, the cost of bad writing may not be quantifiable to this level of accuracy. As noted by Bernoff, poor writing can have negative consequences on everything a business does, some of which are both very real and impossible to put dollar amounts to. For example, poor writing:
- Costs sales and time
- Damages company morale and weaken its credibility
- Hurts your brand
- Can lead to legal implications
- Can lead to lost ideas or message
While it’s not an exhaustive list, they have serious implications for your business. Let’s take a closer look at some talent-related consequences of bad writing, the costs of which are nearly impossible to quantify.
How Can Bad Writing Affect Your Business?
Poor worker performance. This is especially true among white-collar employees, with writing as a core part of their job. If your staff writes poorly or inefficiently, they’re ultimately failing at a core function, which negatively affects their overall performance and value to your business.
Low productivity among employees. When managers and staff struggle to understand poorly written materials, they spend less time on other important tasks. In addition, workers who write poorly take significant amounts of time dealing with emails and other written materials. Again, these are times that could be spent on other tasks.
Diminished employee engagement. If the consequences of poor writing are severe in a company, it can diminish employee engagement, which can create a domino effect that could worsen other negative consequences.
Fast turnover rates. Poor performance results in low morale among the workforce. This, in turn, results in employees leaving your company or being let go because of low productivity or ineffectiveness. For example, an employee who writes poorly tends to give low-quality presentations and/or can contribute to the company’s inability to meet goals.
Poor bench strength. Obviously, promoting someone to key roles in your company, such as managerial, is not a great move if they have poor writing skills. If writing is a key task throughout your company, it will be difficult to develop effective managers. In the end, you may have to deal with the consequences of promoting individuals without the necessary writing skills to succeed as managers or hire a new manager from outside your company. The latter could result in high or unnecessary company costs and longer hiring time.
How to Deal with Poor Business Writing Skills
So, what must be done? The obvious solution would be to improve the quality of your company’s written communication. This is particularly important in today’s workplace, where workers are increasingly required to write more, from tweets and emails to memos and letters.
As a manager or employer, I recommend applying a more systematic approach to analyzing the situation and implementing a good strategy to improve your workers’ writing skills. In a broad perspective, it would look something like this:
1. Working with writing experts
One of the best ways to ensure your business is credible in its written communication is by working with writing professionals.
Consider hiring a pro to craft quality content for your company website and other external media. Some of the best paper writing services can even provide training for your employees whose core function is writing.
2. Identifying employees with poor/ineffective writing skills
Most hiring managers are already proactive about weeding out poor writers during the hiring process. According to CollegeBoard research, 50% of respondents take writing into consideration when hiring professionals, while 80 percent of companies with employment growth potential carefully assess writing skills during hiring.
Therefore, the first place to spot poor writing skills would be within an applicant’s resume and cover letter. For those who make the cut, employers would typically conduct a writing exercise during the interview, to evaluate the writing skills of potential hires.
3. Spotting employees whose writing skills require work and strategizing about training
For current workers whose skills in writing need improvement, training is still the best answer. While this can be costly, most businesses and organizations can’t afford writing errors that might cost them more in the long run.
You can conduct training in several ways:
- Using in-house experts
- Hiring trainers
- Using online courses
While many of today’s companies greatly benefit from online learning (since it’s cost-effective and can be done at any time), you as the employer may be able to deal with the matter by drawing on your own workforce.
Take note, however, that creating this type of training program can be challenging. You may find it more beneficial to hire trainers or explore online learning.
4. Assessing the effectiveness of training
As with any training program, it’s important to come equipped with assessment tools to measure how effective the writing training is, along with follow-up skills testing and requesting feedback from your employees.
At the same time, you need to prepare to run refresher courses on a regular basis. Language learning is a continuous process so it’s also important to implement new courses that could help your employees develop their capacity to write effectively.
5. Treating your readers’ time as more valuable than your own
Practice makes perfect. As with any skill, it takes a lot of practice to master business writing. Make it a habit and be sure to take time to proofread and edit your work.
We’re lazy and always seek convenience by saving our own time over someone else’s. Each time you send an email or any type of business document, spend some time to structure it for maximum readability. Afterward, read it over a few times to make sure it’s error-free and effectively communicates the message you want to convey to your reader or recipient.
So there you have it. Fuzzy business writing costs BIG dollars, both in lost sales and inefficiencies. Fortunately, business writing isn’t rocket science. It’s a skill that can easily be taught – and one worth learning, as well! Effective writing makes a huge difference in the world – or at least your business’ bottom line!
You can do better and be better.
About the author:
Carol Duke is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on education-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling, taking immense pleasure from visiting new countries. You can follow her on Twitter.
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