While yes, our world is one of endless information right at our fingertips; it doesn’t mean that employees need less training because of it. On-the-job training—and remedial training, for that matter—is needed now more than ever.

Research shows that writing is one area white-collar businesses are spending billions on every single year. In this post, we’ll look at the need for this specific skill, and what training departments can do to help ensure employees and new hires are up to speed.

Writing Training: An Expensive, but Necessary Investment

Think about how many emails you write in a day. How many reports you write up. How often you have to put together a written proposal of some sort.

It’s a lot, isn’t it?

Some studies indicate the average worker spends as much as 6.3 hours a day in the email inbox—the majority of the eight-hour workday. Writing, even if it’s only email, is a huge part of the average workday—and when those skills are lacking, it’s a poor reflection on the business, both internally and externally.

A report from the National Commission on Writing shows that blue chip companies are investing as much as $3.1B annually into remedial writing training for employees, and that $2.9B of that was for current employees. This indicates that weak writing skills aren’t being picked up on in the interview process—and that they’re poor enough to require training to fix it.

The Text-Lingo Crisis

Another issue that compounds the writing training issue is today’s pervasiveness of texting, LOL-type abbreviations, and use of emojis. As many people fall into the habit in using these informal means of written communication, it slowly seeps into our professional emails, too.

We start seeing things like ‘ur’ instead of ‘your’ in emails. Smiley faces are included in professional reports. Employees send business-related texts based in emojis. Is this a crime? No—but when there isn’t protocol in place for what’s appropriate and when, your professional brand can suffer as a result.

Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of working with the HR department to implement policy. Buy maybe you’re wondering, what can HR departments do to spot weak writing skills in the hiring process from the beginning, and how can current employees be tested for their abilities?

Testing and Training

To cut down on training costs in the future, it’s wise to extend the interviewing process to include writing tasks that put a candidate’s written communication skills on display. Ask him/her to write a job-related assignment, and study their responses to evaluate these skills before making a hiring offer. When choosing between two close match candidates, choose the better writer.

For current employees, assess training needs through surveys in which employees can self-indicate a need for remedial writing help, or through conducting a standardized evaluation for employees that tests their overall writing skills.

The bottom line: Writing is unavoidable in the modern workplace—and weak writing skills hurt communication both internally and externally. Hire more strong writers in the future, and ensure your current team is up to speed with training, too.

Don’t Skimp on Writing Training

An investment in training for written communication skills is an investment with a huge ROI. Not only does it show that you are invested in on-going employee development, but it means less wasted time on rounds of editing documents and fewer embarrassing emails sent out with spelling and grammar mistakes.