People are writing more than ever before, at home or at work. Effective written communication skills are now an essential part of the HR professional’s tool kit. Today we discuss why your business writing skills are important in HR, and how to improve yours.
Excellent writing is an important skill set for productive HR teams. It enables them to recruit competent candidates, provide accurate feedback on projects, and execute plans.
When an HR manager has superior writing skills, it leads to the productivity of employees and ensures that the company’s goals are met.
Here is a look at the importance of HR writing skills and some of the writing skills that HR should master.
Growing demand for business writing skills
The not so recent introduction of digital forms of communication like SMS, email, and instant messenger apps has increased the importance of writing skills in the workplace during the last decade or so.
Currently, most communication between employers and workers occurs through emails, text messages, and instant messages. In the new business environments, business writing skills are indispensable, making it crucial for HR departments to learn the art of writing since verbal communications appear to have taken a back seat.
Misunderstandings arise when your writing is not clear and concise. You end up failing to convey your opinions and thoughts properly. This lack of communication accuracy affects the effectiveness of your messages.
It is crucial to use the right words and structure, and to write properly to send across the appropriate message. To avoid misunderstandings, you need to polish your writing skills.
Writing prowess demonstrates professionalism
Many people associate good business writing with professionalism. A professional can deliver concise and clear messages. They are skilled in conveying their thoughts and views without causing misinterpretations.
Managers who possess good writing skills are seen as more professional than those struggling to send across their message. When your writing reflects quality content, you are regarded as a competent person. For this reason, good writing goes hand in hand with business acumen and professionalism.
Business emails and SMS should be short and straight to the point. Writing a detailed email or text may leave the reader confused. Writing skills help you eliminate unnecessary fluff and develop informative messages.
Many people are turned away by long business emails. Writing a long message to a potential investor can lead to a lost opportunity because you cannot express yourself briefly and concisely. Many people tend to scan through a message instead of reading it entirely. This is the reason HR managers need to adopt the skill of concise and quick messaging.
Whether you promote an employee to another rank or reward them for their efforts, you will require superior writing skills. The role of an HR manager is to find, choose, and hire employees. They are charged with drafting an advertisement regarding a vacancy in their organisation. Therefore, their message should convey exactly what the company is looking for.
The manager’s writing skills are what will draw raw talent to apply for a position. The same skills are required when promoting an employee or rewarding them for their efforts. You must express the company’s gratitude and appreciate the employee’s efforts.
Important HR writing skills
Read your texts and identify any weak points. Watch out for grammar or spelling mistakes, illogical flow, tone, wording, and unclear delivery. During your analysis, you should put yourself in the reader’s place. Try to anticipate the reader’s thoughts and expectations.
Determine the readability of the text and how your message will be interpreted. Make sure your text hits the nail on the head and does not wander away from the main point. Critical analysis is a skill you need to master to deliver effective messages.
To improve your writing, you must learn how to write a thesis statement. This is the objective of your text. The main idea of your text should come first. Remember, people do not always read documents till the end.
Therefore, make sure your reader knows what to expect in the rest of the document. A thesis statement sets the pace for your writing. It should be debatable, clear, and concise. Your entire writing should be based on your main idea, as indicated in the introduction.
Also, as you conclude your message, you should reiterate your main idea, the supporting ideas, and how they lead to the conclusion.
Focus on your audience
An important skill in writing is putting your audience in mind. You need to target a specific audience. This means your test should appeal to a specific group of people. When you have your audience in mind, you know the appropriate tone and language to use.
Many writers make the mistake of trying to impress their readers with complex writing and jargon that they can hardly understand. It would help if you fashioned your language according to your audience. For example, if you propose standing orders among company executives, you can use complex legal jargon.
However, when addressing support staff about internal policy, you should use layman’s language.
Like Albert Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you do not understand it yourself.” This means that your message should be simple enough to understand though it contains complex information.
Many executives find it difficult to maintain flow in their communication. You need to have a persuasive flow. Your text should move from one idea to the next. The best way to maintain a logical flow is to create a plan.
The plan will serve as a roadmap that keeps you right on track. Identify the main message and then follow it up with the objective and relevant information leading up to the conclusion. It is advisable to address each argument in a separate paragraph. Mixing ideas in one paragraph will confuse your readers.
This is an important writing skill that every HR manager should master. All your writing should be based on thorough research. Your content should be informative and based on facts and statistics.
When researching content, ask yourself the questions that readers would want answers to. Never base your information on opinions or emotions. If you want your text to be convincing and reliable, base it on factual information.
Simplify your language
The ability to use simple language is the first thing we test our writers for at The Content Panel when they apply to write website content for us – and you’d be amazed at how many professional writers struggle with this.
So don’t feel discouraged if you find this point a little tougher than the other bits of advice on this page.
Try and avoid buzzwords as they take the originality from your text. The use of simple language also involves being concise.
To improve the readability of your text, keep it simple. Minimise the use of passive voice and instead use active voice. To master the use of active voice, make sure your sentence structure follows the “Subject, Verb, Object” order instead of the “Object, Verb, Subject” order.
In the first case, a sentence will read like: “James wrote the text.” The second instance will sound like: “The text was written by James,” which sounds off. If you cannot master this format, use applications like the free Hemmingway app and freemium Grammarly app to remove passive voice and rate your text’s readability.
A good writer should have a written piece with an organised layout. The layout will affect the logical flow of your ideas. Readers tend to digest messages in small bits and shun away from lengthy anecdotes. Learn to break down huge pieces into small paragraphs with bullet lists. Lists are easier to follow.
Another important point is to use H2 and H3 subheadings to divide your text into logical sections. Use your company’s formatting guidelines to create a layout for your text. This will save you time and ensure you do not leave out anything in your writing.
HR departments need to use the right tone in their writing. This will affect how their message is perceived. The tone is your attitude towards your audience. The tone affects your reader the same way your tone of voice affects your listener.
To ensure you use an appropriate tone, you need to ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I writing this text?
- Who am I addressing, and what message I’m I delivering to them?
- What tone should I use?
When deciding which tone to use, consider the objective of your document. You want the message to reach your reader and for them to take some action. Also, your message will be effective if it addresses a specific reader.
Ultimately, the tone you use affects how your message is interpreted. Most business messages use the same tone. As a business writer, you should aim for a courteous, confident, and sincere tone.
It would help if you also employed a tone that uses subordination and emphasis correctly. Your tone should use non-discriminatory language. One exception is writing a negative message, like when denying a customer request or job offer.
Many organisations underestimate the importance of HR or business writing skills. As an HR manager, honing your writing skills will improve how you communicate with employees. It will ensure you are always on the same page and that the company’s objectives and goals are clear to everyone.
Writing skills also improve the delivery of correspondence and ensure you get the results you want. Additionally, superior writing skills lead to improved business negotiations and allow you to win over important clients and recruit talented employees.
The road to acquiring HR writing skills is not an easy one. First, you need to learn how to identify weaknesses in your writing and formulate a thesis for all your messages. Also, your writing should focus on your audience and should have the right tone to be effective.
About the Author
A writer and social butterfly at heart, Jade works at a content writing service, The Content Panel, as marketing director. She loves general aviation, surfing, and curling up with a good book on a rainy day.