Bad business writing decreases productivity

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, bad business writing decreases worker productivity and can create confusion and uncertainty.

Author Josh Bernoff surveyed 547 businesspeople, especially those who write at least two hours per week. Respondents reported that they spend an average of 25.5 hours per week reading at work. About a third of that is just emails.

Eighty-one percent agreed that poorly written communications waste a lot of their time. They reported that a majority of what they read is ineffective because it’s too long, poorly organized, unclear, filled with jargon, and imprecise.

To make those 25.5 hours per week more efficient, Bernoff advocates for committing to a culture of clarity. His article makes the following points:

Clear leadership, expressed in writing, creates alignment and boosts productivity.  He argues that vague writing dilutes leadership.

Clarity and truth are core values for marketers. Clarity in marketing tells customers that they can trust you. Marketers should spend time trumpeting what works instead of concealing what doesn’t.

Clear writing explains what is happening, what ought to happen, and what people need to do. Use well-organized, active-voice sentences. Fuzzy writing allows fuzzy thinking.

A culture of clear writing makes managers more productive. Managers can spend time trudging through their employees’ fuzzy writing, or they can work to create a culture that prizes brevity, clarity and directness.

Bernoff concludes that committing to a culture of clarity “could make a big difference in how smoothly your business runs – and it could make your day a lot less annoying.”


Author: Glenn Gillen, APR
Glenn Gillen is our Senior Account Manager.

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