5 Talent-Related Consequences of Poor Writing for Organizations


How much does poor writing cost? A lot. Well-known writing expert Josh Bernoff has quantified the cost of poor writing for US businesses at $396 billion. Yes, billion.
To be frank, however, the effects of poor writing skills may not be quantifiable to that level of precision. As Bernoff notes, “Poor writing creates a drag on everything you do”; some of the drags—consequences—are both very real and impossible to put dollar amounts on. That’s true of several of the following consequences that we examine in a new white paper (direct access, no registration required), “The Consequences of Poor Writing”:
  • Poor writing costs sales and business
  • Poor writing costs time
  • Poor writing can damage morale and undermine respect in the workplace
  • Poor writing can hurt your organization’s brand
  • Poor writing can be dangerous
  • Poor writing means lost ideas
It’s not an exhaustive list of consequences. In this post, for example, we look at five talent-related consequences of poor writing skills in the workplace, the costs of which are difficult, if not impossible, to quantify.
1. Lower Employee Productivity
When workers and managers spend time trying to understand poorly written materials or extensively editing poorly written materials, that’s time they aren’t spending on other tasks. Additionally, employees who struggle to write often take an inordinate amount of time working on emails and other written materials. Again, this is time that that could be spent on other tasks.
2. Poor Employee Performance
For employees in white-collar jobs, writing is a core part of their work. If they’re writing poorly or ineffectively, they’re failing at a core task, which hurts their overall performance and their value to your organization.
3. High Turnover
Poor performance, as well as low morale (discussed in the white paper), can result in employees leaving your organization or being let go due to ineffectiveness or lack of productivity. Poor writing skills, for example, can result in employees giving poor presentations or can contribute to sales peoples’ inability to meet goals.
4. Low Bench Strength
Generally,  promoting people to key roles in your organization, such as managerial, isn’t a good idea if their writing skills are substandard. If poor writing skills are pervasive through your organization, you’ll have trouble developing effective managers. The result is either dealing with the consequences of promoting people without the necessary writing skills to succeed as managers, or having to hire new managers from outside your organization. The latter can result in higher recruiting costs and longer time to hire.
5. Reduced Employee Engagement
If these consequences of poor writing are severe in an organization, they can reduce employee engagement which, in turn, can worsen many of the other negative consequences. This is one reason that pervasive poor writing in an organization is a major problem that needs to be addressed.
Poor writing impacts entire organizations, including talent. It’s why more organizations are turning to corporate writing training as a solution, especially as they understand both the costs of poor writing and the benefits of effective writing. To learn about the benefits of effective writing, read our white paper (direct access—no registration required) “The ROI of Effective Writing.”