More than $3.1 billion! That’s how much is being spent by businesses annually on remedial writing training. Poor writing skills are costing businesses billions. According to a study from CollegeBoard, a panel established by the National Commission on Writing, blue chip businesses are spending as much as $3.1 billion on remedial writing training each year for their employees. And, surprisingly, of this amount, $2.9 billion was spent on current employees, and not new hires. Also surprisingly, we are talking about mostly college-educated employees. So why are businesses spending money to teach their employees how to write? Because having employees who don’t have good writing skills can hurt your bottom line in a number of ways.
“Poorly written brochures, newsletters or marketing materials will communicate a lack of professionalism and competency to your customers, employees and other stakeholders. When choosing between two or more brands or companies, most customers will select the option with clear and correct written communication. If a company has misspellings in their letters or other correspondence, it sends a message the organization might not care about the quality of the services or products they promise to provide,” explains Joe Mueller, Principal, Mueller Communications, Inc.
Obviously since communication is part of every business, poorly written communication can wreak havoc in all areas of business. Adds workplace communications expert Elizabeth Perea, President and CEO of Brickhouse Solutions, Inc., “Poor writing skills impact a business on virtually every level, from emails that miscommunicate your message to your team to emails and marketing materials that miscommunicate your message to your target market…The long and short of it, poor communication practices in the workplace impact virtually every aspect of company culture AND the bottom line.”
Today, in a business world driven by online content, this is especially true. “Content marketing is at the core of any organization, without which the success of an organization is incomplete. Written content forms the first impression on a consumer’s mind. Any grammatical errors, incorrect sentence structure, or spelling errors can turn off a reader and form a negative impression about a company,” says Ibanrilin Diengdoh, Content Strategist and Editor for international development and marketing company Wisecalvin.
Poor writing skills can be improved. “I feel that the best way to improve writing skills is by reading good books,” suggests Diengdoh. “We may also make use of some writing tools available online to improvise. Some of the online tools which I use are Grammarly, which helps me with grammar and punctuation; and Hemingway, which helps with sentence structuring. I usually recommend my writers to use these apps for improved writing skills.”
You can also hire professional editors and writers. “For businesses that have the budget to do so, hiring writing talent can be a smart choice. If you’re a small operation, and writing isn’t in the core set of talents at your business, then hiring freelance writers can save you a lot of headaches and get your message out quickly,” offers business coach Karen Southall Watts, author of Messenger: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Communication. You can also help your employees improve on their own. “For businesses that want to boost writing skills for some or all members of the team, there are options as well. Make brainstorming, group writing and peer review a part of staff meetings and projects. This will allow your team to work together to build writing skills and morale. Consider bringing in a trainer to work with your writing team on refreshing their writing skills. As a team, review the written materials of competitors and related businesses. Learn from the successes and failures of others,” notes Watts.