The Cost of Poor Writing in Business (and What Management Can Do About It)

Guest post written by Carol Duke.


Let’s face it: Poor writing is costing your business BIG time.

?Writing is a vital skill that can be applied to many areas in our life. But how exactly does it impact the success of your business?

In this day and age, where most people are communicating in 140 characters or less, you tend to become counter-culture if you can actually write, which, by the way, ?is a great advantage. But this lack of formality can come at a heavy price. With frequent use of emojis and text-speak, writing skills are declining at an incredibly fast pace.

Businesses aren’t immune to this trend. Bad writing – one that’s exceedingly informal, vague, or riddled with meaningless jargon, has made its way into the workforce as well. In a business context, it’s essential to have a firm control of the way we express our message.

What is the cost of poor writing in your business?

According to an article published by the Harvard Business Review, bad business writing is “a hidden source of friction that is slowing your company down”.

For the first three months of 2016, the survey targeted businesspersons who wrote at least 2 hours per week, including writing emails. These individuals spent an average of 25.5 hours a week reading for work – about a third of which was email.

Of the 547 businesspersons surveyed, 81% agreed that poorly written content wastes a lot of their time. Many admit that what they read is often ineffective because it’s too long, very poorly organized, unclear and imprecise, and filled with technical jargon.

Instead of speeding up communication, a poorly written email, business proposal or instruction memo slows down productivity, and confuses the content of the message. In turn, the time spent to work out the true meaning of a badly written message means:

  • Additional expenses
  • Unfinished/incomplete work
  • Missed due dates
  • Additional costs that are mostly avoidable

Poor Business Writing: What You Can Do About It

Write Clearly and Accurately

?Fuzzy writing leads to fuzzy thinking. Inaccurate and passive language facilitates gaps in thinking. On the other hand, clear writing makes use of organized, active-voice sentences that effectively explain what’s happening, what’s about to happen, and what the team needs to do.

There are two advantages to using clear, direct, and active language. Firstly, it forces writers to carefully think through the message they want to convey and the arguments they can use to support it. Secondly, it makes the smart writers stand out. If you value clarity in writing, clear thinkers will surely rise to the top!

The good news is that you and your employees can learn better writing strategies in less time. For example, if you’re planning to create a website or a brochure for your business, you may want to use the service of a consultant or copywriter to work on your written material. You can check out various top writing service reviews for expert help.

Make a Good First-Impression

?Falling victim to spelling and grammatical errors is an easy way for customers to discount the credibility of your business. You can’t always rely on built-in spell check features as a lot of companies don’t have an in-house editor. This makes it all the more important to proofread your content at all times.

In business, first impressions always matters. You need to make sure you come across as a professional. Yes, you need to grab their attention, but you’ll also want to earn their respect. The use of correct grammar, appropriate spelling, and proper use of punctuation goes a long way in boosting the confidence of a person (and the company itself).

Increase Productivity Through Better Writing

As mentioned earlier, it takes employers more time to read through and understand poor business writing – about 25.5 hours weekly on average. Just imagine what your company could do if you reclaim even just 2% of that lost time.

For example, if you have 500 people on your team, they would have over 250 hours free every week to dedicate to more productive activities.

A lot of businesses rely heavily on written materials (i.e. memos, emails, proposals) among employees. With proper grammar and spelling usage, your workforce will understand instructions better. This avoids any unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding about what’s expected of them.

The result? Less time wasted trying to figure out poorly written content and more time spent doing their job. What’s more, better writing can help establish harmonious relationships between colleagues, thanks to better communication!

Good writing means a writer is able to craft a message that’s not just attention-grabbing, but clear and interesting, as well. A well-written message stands out, boosts the company’s productivity, and establishes a trustworthy reputation. With good writing, customers and prospects are more likely to trust a business that’s able to communicate clearly and correctly.


Equally so, employees in-charge of communications are expected to be proficient in their job. Therefore, it makes sense for them to be provided with proper training and support.

About 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.