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Business and Grammar

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    Students attend college for the main purpose of receiving a degree and obtaining a job. If poor grammar is inhibiting students from getting a job after college, grammatical principles of writing should be more heavily emphasized within the college curriculum. But, do employers even care about the level of grammatical ability their applicants have? To find the answer to this question, it was important to consider how employers in the professional world feel about grammatical ability and how it varies from profession to profession.

    Reading articles about grammar in the workplace, analyzing blogs posted by employers, and conducting interviews with employers were the main methods we used to research this question. Articles provided a general idea of how poor grammar affects productivity in the workplace. Additionally, blogs posted by employers showed how poor grammar reflects negatively on the applicant’s intelligence. Finally, interviews with employers allowed us to ask specific questions about the feelings surrounding poor grammar in the workplace.

    After conducting our research, it was clear that improper grammar is looked down upon in the workplace. In an interview with Matt Gregg, senior account executive at Hall & Partners, Inc. , he explained that communicating with proper grammar is key to any professional communication. “When you are writing properly, it not only shows that you care about your message, but you care about how the receiver interprets your message. It is very frustrating when someone isn’t putting in their best effort,” he said.

    Gregg’s response refers to negative judgement that is placed on a person who has poor grammar. John McWhorter, editor at the New York Times, had a similar outlook. “We cannot help associating ‘bad’ grammar with low intelligence, sloppiness and lack of refinement,” he stated in his article Good Applicants With Bad Grammar. The Harvard Business review also featured a blog post by Kyle Wiens, titled I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why. In his post, he writes that “people who are diligent about their grammar are diligent about everything that they do. After analyzing these responses, we came to the conclusion that employers have very negative opinions of applicants/employees with poor grammar. Employers view poor grammar as a characteristic of lazy, unintelligent, careless workers that won’t take their jobs seriously. But how does poor grammar affect the workplace and does it vary based on profession? After looking into these questions, we found that the use of poor grammar generally causes confusion in the workplace. Kristi Munno, a copywriter, blogged about her experiences with poor grammar in the workplace.

    She explains in her post that “it causes confusion, it makes you look unprofessional, it hinders productivity” (How Poor Grammar Impacts the Workplace 2012). Gregg agreed with this statement in our interview. He commented, “It definitely causes more work for people when they are trying to figure out what someone meant or what they were trying to say. And no, I don’t think the importance of grammar varies from profession to profession. Communication is necessary in every work environment, and the usage of poor grammar will cause confusion and unprofessionalism. Because of the problems associated with improper grammar in the workplace, “About 45% of 430 employers surveyed by SHRM and AARP said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees’ grammar and other skills” (Business Management 2012). After analyzing our results, we concluded that poor grammar is a major issue in the workplace and something that can be avoided. Our results came from credible sources and currently working professionals. We found that poor grammar has the potential to make a well-qualified applicant seem unintelligent, careless, and lazy.

    As an applicant, you have not yet had the opportunity to “show for yourself” or prove that you are a hard-worker. Instead, your writing (in the form of a cover letter, resume, email, etc. ) is the only thing being judged. If there are grammatical errors and an employer has nothing else to evaluate except your writing, he/she may not even offer you an interview. The entire purpose of going to college is to get a degree and obtain a supportable, full-time job. If poor grammar is inhibiting applicants from receiving an interview (let alone a job-offer) then that defeats the entire purpose of getting a college education.

    Furthermore, poor grammar causes confusion and often hinders productivity within any professional workplace. This causes frustration for employers and wasted time for everyone involved in that particular communication. If poor grammar results in a company-wide workshop to better employee grammar, that is even more wasted time (and possibly money) for the company. If applicants/employees have learned grammar in their college curriculum, they would have a better chance of being hired after graduation and better employees in the workplace.

    Not only would having proper grammar reflect well on the individual applicant, but it would additionally reflect well on the University from which they graduated. Our credible sources really do not contradict each other. Each article concludes that poor grammar is an unattractive quality for any person applying for a job position and even those in the work place. Most of the articles featured a member of a company with an executive position explaining how they will not hire anyone with bad grammar and go into further detail explaining how these members would hinder their company.

    It is hard to come up with counter arguments for why grammar is important to employers in the business world, but we believe it would be different for other professions. For example, menial labor that doesn’t involve conversation outside of their job such as garbage men, construction workers, janitors, servers, maids, or toll workers wouldn’t need good grammar for their day to day jobs. We recommend that you continue to utilize the McGraw Hill Connect Composition with your future classes since they help to focus on teaching, testing, and correcting grammar.

    Since so many employers focus on this, it is the best way to make students realize the importance behind it. Allowing each us to form groups and present to teach the class for each chapter is a good idea. However, we feel as if it is not incentive enough for everyone to do the reading. We believe a way that would benefit the class would be to add I-clicker points to the class allowing students to receive either points or extra credit for correctly answering grammar or writing questions that are given following the presentations.

    This would force students to want to both do the readings and pay more attention to presentations since their grade depends on it. Rationale Memo: To: Melissa Larabee From: Colleen Budd and Cassidy Lepper Date: February 19, 2013 Subject: Rationale Memo In order to research the question: “How do employers in the professional world feel about grammatical ability and how much does it vary from profession to profession? ” we decided to conduct both primary and secondary research to achieve the best possible results.

    We wanted to analyze a range of responses from employers so that we could come to a conclusion about the overarching feelings towards poor grammar in the workplace. Here is our rationale in composing our recommendation to you: 1 – We conceived our audience by deeming employers the main source of information for our research. This is because they are the people in charge of hiring applicants and communicating with many employees, and experienced in the workplace. 2 – We decided to begin our research by reading articles that have already researched the issue of improper grammar and how it affects the workplace.

    This gave a general idea about how employers feel, how it affects work productivity, and why it is such a problem. After reading articles, we found that there were many blog posts about poor grammar in professional environments. These were mostly posted by current employers and seemed to have more of an expressive tone than the articles. Finally, the best way to analyze employers’ feelings toward poor grammar was to talk to them personally. We conducted a phone interview with a very experienced employer in a marketing research firm downtown Chicago.

    Talking to him, we were able to ask follow-up questions from the blog posts and articles and get specific responses. 3 – To present this information, we pulled quotes from each of our sources to bring our analyzation to life. The quotes help to understand the feelings that employers have and how poor grammar reflects negatively on the individual and their university. We hope that our recommendation is useful to you in your decision to emphasize grammar in the BTW 250 course. Please let us know if you would like any additional information regarding our research. Thank you!

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    Business and Grammar. (2016, Nov 04). Retrieved from

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