Quick! Take a glance at your phone.
See that little red circle on your email icon? What’s your number? I am determined to keep that number in the single digits. How about you?
Whether you are an inbox zero devotee or ignore the number in the red circle altogether, there is no doubt that email is currently the primary form of business communication. Even if you use Slack or another internal platform, your employees are communicating with the written word to clients, prospects, and coworkers, representing your company when they do.
Especially these days. “Writing is the top skill remote workers need during the coronavirus epidemic,” says author Hayden Barnes in an article for Medium.com. Makes sense, right? As we all communicate remotely, Barnes explains,
“… billions of dollars are lost every year due to the cost of poor communication,
and COVID–19 has made certain market situations dire.”
In addition, according to a Holmes report, surveyed corporations estimate that communication barriers cost the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity. Poor writing skills can lead to other direct economic losses for companies as well. Josh Bernoff wrote a piece recently for The Daily Beast titled, “Bad Writing Costs Businesses Billions.” The article grabbed my attention with an amazing statistic:
Bad writing is costing American businesses close to $400 billion every year.
And yet, I believe it. With so much incoming communication, we look for reasons NOT to open and read an email. If a subject line or opening paragraph is poorly crafted, you can bet I am moving on quickly. In an article for Forbes Women, Ashira Prossack lists communication skills as one of the top six skills needed for remote work. According to Prossack, “An excellent virtual communicator has the ability to convey their message clearly across any channel, regardless of if it’s spoken or written.”
With most of our work being done remotely, strong communication skills are more important than ever. And, as Joe LaTorre, Director of Innovation at Employment Technologies, says,
“Every word of an email, chat, or text can last forever. It can be shared across the globe with just one click.”
The stakes are high!
How we learn to communicate starts early. Every infant is a natural-born linguist capable of mastering any of the world’s 7,000 languages like a native. Unfortunately, not all children have access to equal learning opportunities. “Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress,” as reported by Dana Goldstein of the New York Times. No wonder communication skills (or lack thereof) are costing companies dearly.
Experts seem to agree on common areas that can be improved. What stands out to you? Are you particularly bothered by grammatical errors or spelling errors? What about insider lingo or abbreviations?
Once when attending a staff meeting during my first week on the job at a successful non-profit, I learned that absolutely everything they did had an acronym or abbreviation, and it made on-boarding difficult and slow. This article on Freelance Writing has a great list of practical concerns for business writing. It includes specific techniques such as avoiding complex sentences in order to capture the busy reader’s attention.
If you are an HR professional, Joe LaTorre points to one very specific issue you may be facing:
“New workers grew up on Twitter. They are used to writing instant responses with no premeditated thought. How can we expect them to instantly adapt to business writing requirements, and is it even fair?”
Luckily, companies can now turn to a new diagnostic tool to quickly identify and improve the writing skills of new and current employees.
SkilTrak, by Employment Technologies, is a short, engaging simulation that instantly evaluates online writing skills. Leveraging their AI research in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning, Employment Technologies’ new SkilTrak provides immediate machine-based scoring of candidates’ email/chat writing samples. This not only results in a significant time savings but also increases accuracy by eliminating human error and potential bias.
Taking it a step further, SkilTrak also creates a personalized Guide to Better Online Writing based on each candidate’s individual assessment results. The guide includes the candidate’s overall results, along with helpful tips to enhance future email, chat, and text writing skills. Imagine how helpful!
Improving written communication across the board will save your company embarrassing – and costly – mistakes. Well-written email, chat, and text messages can help your company stand out in a positive way. Equipped with strong writing skills, your employees will express their ideas clearly, share information in a concise and compelling way, and open new doors of opportunity.
Want to know more?
Give Employment Technologies a call at 888.332.0648 or contact them here. Never any pressure.