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Communication is a powerful asset to any business, if used well it can improve your company's performance and reputation, as well as your staff engagement and morale. In this article, we explore three reasons why professional business writing is good for your organisation. We also guide you on metrics to use to convince your stakeholders that business writing training is a valuable investment.
On average, working professionals spend around 28% of their working week reading and replying to emails. Many spend more time deciphering emails to find key messages than they do performing their dedicated tasks to help the business develop.
This is causing businesses to lose valuable time and money: The average organisation can lose up to £25,000 a year (per employee) because of poor communication.
To combat this, many Learning and Development and HR teams are looking to invest in professional business writing courses. Despite the evidence of their value, many of us find it challenging to explain this effectively and engage stakeholders before, during and after training.
In this article, we explore three reasons why effective business writing benefits your staff, teams and organisation. We discover real-life examples as well as explain what data you need to convince stakeholders of the value of strong business communication.
1. Increased performance and productivity
Clear, coherent and concise messaging reduces the amount of time spent reading messages and asking the writer to clarify. It also reduces miscommunication and results in quicker, more accurate action. These, in turn, increase productivity, resulting in cost savings to the team and organisation.
Federal Express reviewed their ground operations manuals and discovered that it took readers an average of five minutes to find the information they needed. What’s more, they would only find the correct information 53 per cent of the time.
They then engaged a consultant to improve the readability, layout and presentation of information, including adding more visuals.
The time taken to find information decreased by 28% and success in finding correct information rose by 27%. This increase in productivity resulted in improved performance and saved the company $400,000 in the first year.
What metrics can you use to measure performance and productivity gains?
Consider measuring the following over a fixed period:
- the percentage of time spent reading and writing emails and documents
- how long staff spend rewriting, editing and proofreading documents
- how many times employees ask for clarification, as well as how long they have to wait for a response
- how much time is wasted by miscommunication
- how many deadlines and targets are missed due to poor communication and calculate approximately how much this all costs the business.
2. Improved brand image and reputation
Strong business writing reinforces your organisation’s brand and sets the tone of your interactions with customers and clients. When it is done consistently well, it enhances your image, reduces negative interactions with external stakeholders and increases customer loyalty.
General Electric revised its customer software manuals to make them clearer and more concise. Calls from customers asking for clarification then dropped by 125 a month, resulting in an estimated saving of $375,000 a year.
What metrics can you use to measure image and reputational gains?
Consider measuring the following over a fixed period:
- customer experience and feedback scores, including Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- the number of complaints received
- positive and negative press and reviews relating to the business’ communication
- how many customers are lost due to poor communication
- the number of enquiries relating to clarifying or misunderstanding written documents.
3.Increased staff engagement
Good business writing ensures that the vision and strategy of the organisation and the leadership team are communicated to staff, which inspires and engages them. Good writing within teams can foster collaboration, increase each individual’s sense of belonging and make work more meaningful.
The O.C. Tanner Company’s research showed that saying ‘thank you’ increased staff engagement by between 20 and 30%.
Although a simple, quick gesture, this shows how powerful written communication can be to make staff feel appreciated and inspire them to work collaboratively and productively.
What metrics can you use to measure staff engagement?
Consider the following:
- answers to questions related to written communication from staff wellbeing surveys
- how many staff members mention poor communication as a reason for leaving in exit interviews
- qualitative information from focus groups on internal communications
- employee engagement or net promoter scores (eNPS) relating to written communication
- click-through rates for internal communications, e.g. bulletins and newsletters.
The power of good communication skills
Good business writing is clearly a powerful asset to any business, with research showing that it improves performance and productivity, brand image and staff engagement.
Using this article as a guide, you will be able to demonstrate and explain the return on investment and business benefits of investing in business writing courses. This will help you to influence internal stakeholders before, during and after training and persuade them to invest in this vital skill.
Find out more about how to get stakeholder buy-in by reading our blogs:
- How to use storytelling to persuasively communicate ROI to stakeholders
- Negotiate like a pro to get that training budget
Explore the courses British Council has to offer and discover how you can upskill your employees with our selection of business writing training courses
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Yates, Cathy J. Spencer & Diana Kilbourn. 1995. "A Good User's Guide Means Fewer Support Calls and Lower Support Costs." Technical Communication.
2010. How to engage your team with better writing. May 20. https://www.writing-skills.com/how-to-engage-your-team-with-better-writi...