Higher education institutions are uniquely positioned to develop individuals who will improve society with their abilities to think critically and solve complex problems. And while their overarching missions vary, most institutions would agree a key role is to help prepare graduates for professional success by ensuring they have the essential competencies they need to flourish. Setting students up for success in the workforce goes beyond conferring a degree, certificate, or other academic credential. It also means ensuring that students can formulate opinions and use written communication to express themselves logically and clearly.
Today’s employers value a wide variety of soft skills. A recent study found that 90% of employers ranked written communication as either “very” or “somewhat” important. Yet, only 44% believed graduates were adequately prepared in this area.
“Ineffective communication will plague students throughout their education and early professional careers,” said Dorian Stone, the head of organizations revenue at Grammarly, an AI-powered communication assistant trusted by over 3,000 institutions. “It can stop them from achieving what they’re capable of and limit their accomplishments.”
There is an evident disconnect between the communication skills employers expect of new hires and what college graduates are bringing to the table. To bridge this widening gap, higher education institutions striving for better student outcomes need to prioritize resources and support to improve students’ writing skills. As students consider their future career paths, here are four reasons impeccable writing skills will help them succeed.
Four reasons written communication is critical for professional success
1. Poor communication has both a reputational and a financial cost.
When an employee understands a complex issue or has a unique vision, they want to share that with others. “Yet all too often, they face challenges in translating these ideas to the written word,” said Mary Rose Craycraft, the head of education customer success at Grammarly. “Professional success has a lot to do with showing up the way people expect you to with polished communication and institutions are doing a disservice to students by not helping them learn how to effectively get their thoughts and ideas into the world.”
Employees’ lack of effective communication skills further harms companies through financial costs. A study conducted by Grammarly and The Harris Poll found that U.S. businesses lose up to $1.2 trillion annually — approximately $12,506 per employee every year — because of poor workplace communication.
2. Workers will increasingly chart a more agile career path.
Given today’s evolving workplace, graduates are likely to hold multiple positions throughout their careers. That’s especially true early on. According to recent LinkedIn data, members of Gen Z had a 134% increase in their rate of job-hopping since 2019. That’s compared to a 24% jump for millennials and a 4% decline for baby boomers.
Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that baby boomers held an average of 12 jobs during their work tenure. However, the number of jobs today’s workers have could be double that of previous generations, a report from the consulting firm Korn Ferry explains. As workers continually adapt to new roles and industries, transferable skills like written communication will be even more vital to success.
3. The professional world will remain digital-first.
With the advent of hybrid work, many employees will meet their colleagues digitally before they meet them face-to-face, if they meet in person at all. This reality bolsters the need for strong writing skills as workers increasingly rely on written communication — whether they’re reaching out on a messaging app, sending an email, or preparing a report.
Unfortunately, many workers feel woefully unprepared: In a recent survey, 91% of respondents said they’d had digital messages misinterpreted or misunderstood at work. And one in five shared that miscommunication had led to them being reprimanded, demoted, or even let go. As key connections are made online, those who can write clearly will make better impressions and forge more trusting relationships.
4. Strong written communication is essential in every industry.
While students in STEM and other technical fields may downplay the value of writing skills, employers still expect all team members to show their problem-solving and critical–thinking skills through effective written communication.
“When individuals in careers where writing isn’t central need to share their thoughts and achievements, their communication is often underappreciated and falls in value because writing is outside their skill set,” Stone said. “To be understood by people outside of your immediate community and for the rest of the world to value you, you need to bridge that communication gap, regardless of your field of study or career path.”
Institutions can put their graduates a step ahead by helping them build those proficiencies before stepping into a professional environment.
Closing the writing skills gap can give higher ed institutions an edge
More than ever, tomorrow’s workers will need to present their ideas effectively through written communication with managers, colleagues and clients.
“Institutions can play an integral role in contributing to better–functioning companies by helping prepare the students who will eventually be employed there,” Craycraft said. “A gap currently exists in terms of the expectation for effective communication compared to what students can offer and now is the time to address it.”
However, staffing cutbacks, interrupted learning and other pandemic-induced realities have created a classroom environment where it’s even more challenging to help students improve their writing skills. That’s where an instantly available tool like Grammarly can serve as a resource, with its intuitive interface that can be layered over existing tech stacks.
“Unlike an autocorrect feature that just fixes writing issues, Grammarly helps students form new habits and thus vastly improve their writing acumen over time,” Craycraft said. “By helping develop these enhanced competencies, institutions can make progress in closing the gap that exists in student writing, which will allow them to better compete and succeed in today’s workplace. This credibility will reflect well and help burnish an institution’s reputation.”
Ready to help your students step up their communication skills? Learn more about how Grammarly can help.