In the fast-paced digital age, tech-literacy is essential to survival. Businesses are constantly fighting to keep up with the latest technological innovations.

However, there’s one basic capability that’s being overlooked – and it's a business killer.

“Whether you’re an accountant, a sales professional or a manager, you’ll know that technology is part of our working life,” explains leading grammar expert, Deb Doyle.

“Sadly, even though most people now think being ‘tech-literate’ is a core skill, they don’t think English literacy is a core capability. However, it’s the most important key performance indicator of all.

“Everyone – from customer-service representatives to managers and executives – benefits from learning how to write quality communications such as emails, proposals, sales follow-ups, reports and website content.”

Deb notes that millennials are faced with this reality more than most, because they grew up using a mobile phone to communicate.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t have a good grasp of written English.

“Especially in an age where everyone is so time-poor; we don’t have time to re-read emails or documents.

“An email is just an electronic letter, so why should we lower the standard? Poorly written emails come across as unprofessional and, frankly, embarrassing.”

“Ability to write well is the one key skill that every business’s employees must have in 2020.”

Man on laptop

What can businesses do to boost employee literacy?

In the smart economy, global businesses rely on innovative thinking and the ability to translate ideas into commercial reality and then sell them to the world.

This begins and ends with strong, persuasive and meaningful communication.

Regardless of whether you’re an employee or self-employed – or anything in between – employers and clients will always be looking for someone who can effectively harness words to make the desired impact.

Well-crafted communication is a direct reflection on the organisation, and is the difference between being perceived as professional, polite, capable and dependable – or not.

Written matter riddled with errors immediately undermines its message and even has the power to cause distrust and dismissal. Effective, thoughtful communication lowers the chance of misunderstandings, thereby saving time and money.

“Businesspeople need to focus on getting the edge on their competitors. Upskill your staff members by providing them with writing lessons in person or online.

“Enable them to study English grammar and punctuation thoroughly, to learn how to structure sentences and paragraphs properly and to extend their vocabulary,” Deb explains.

Staff meeting

“They’ll reward you by writing emails that pop, reports that are influential and proposals that have the ‘wow’ factor. Better communication translates to better sales.

“Ability to write well is the one key skill that every business’s employees must have in 2020.”

Deb advises all businesses to critically examine its staff members’ competency as writers. Do a SWOT analysis with them – list their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – however they work with words.

“Successful businesses have staff members who can build and manage healthy and productive relationships and deliver the required outcomes diligently and reliably,” she says.

“The foundation of all these capabilities is skill in wielding all those wonderful words we have at our command and being able to write well and communicate confidently.”

Deb’s clients range from students and parents to managers, business owners and CEOs. She has lent her expertise to the likes of the Australian Productivity Commission, SBS and the New South Wales Police Force.

“So many businesspeople tell me that after their staff members have attended my sessions, they’ve acquired more clients, their sales figures have skyrocketed, and their clients have reported more satisfaction – all because the staff members had learned how to communicate better in writing.”